In June 2016, Dr Ruja Ignatova walked onto the Wembley Arena stage to cheers from thousands of adoring fans. Also known as the “Cryptoqueen”, she was there to promote her very own cryptocurrency – OneCoin, which she touted as the next Bitcoin. Between her charming persona and impressive credentials, people from all over the world were sold on the OneCoin dream – it is estimated that investors poured over US$4 billion into OneCoin purchases between August 2014 and March 2017.
The scheme, however, eventually unravelled. OneCoin was revealed to be nothing more but a Ponzi scheme. Dr Ignatova went missing in October 2017, and has not been found to date. The OneCoin scam was one of the world’s first, and possibly largest, cryptocurrency-related scams. Since then, cryptocurrency fraud has only been on the rise, targeting both retail and institutional investors alike.
Surge in Cryptocurrency-related fraud
As the value of cryptocurrencies leapt and skyrocketed over the past year or so, a report by fraud prevention company Bolster revealed a corresponding increase in cryptocurrencyrelated fraud, and predicts that this trend is likely to grow as the prices of cryptocurrencies continues to rise. Data shows a direct correlation between the value of bitcoin and the incidences of bitcoin scams. True enough, 2020 saw more than 400,000 cryptocurrencyrelated scams globally, a 40 per cent increase from 2019.
Global market capitalisation for cryptocurrencies hit US$1.7 trillion…