The biggest crypto scam: OneCoin co-founder pleads guilty

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Sebastian Greenwood
Sebastian Greenwood

Co-founder of OneCoin, Sebastian Greenwood has finally pled guilty to scamming users of the platform of $4 billion and is facing up to 60 years in jail if convicted in April 2023.

In 2014, Greenwood and his partner, Ruja Ignatova told the world that they had built OneCoin, a cryptocurrency which would rival—or “kill bitcoin”. They lied.

What they actually built was a centralised currency, which, in reality, fell short of what cryptocurrency is. The “coin” was neither mined through computers nor did it have a public or verifiable blockchain.

Prosecutors in the ongoing trial of Greenwood said the operators arbitrarily fixed the coin’s price, before finally pulling the plug and conning its global user base of $4 billion.

Eight years after the big loot, Greenwood has finally pled guilty in a US court and is set to spend 2023 in prison.

US Attorney Damian Williams is reported to have said it is one of many big scams in history.

Pyramid and Ponzi

OneCoin operated as both a pyramid scheme and Ponzi scheme, and it survived by paying early investors with money it obtained from newer ones.

For the past four years, OneCoin has been under the radar of international law enforcement agencies, and major arrests have been made in connection to the case, including that of Ruja Ignatova’s brother, Konstantin Ignatov, who pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering in 2019.

Konstantin Ignatov remains at large today, having etched her name in Europol’s “Europe’s Most Wanted” list, and the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives.

Greenwood, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. His sentence will be on April 5.

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