With the OneCoin logo prominently displayed on the company’s office door in Sofia, Bulgaria back in 2016, many unsuspecting investors were drawn into a well-orchestrated scam that was about to blow up massively. Unfortunately, the picture behind this façade was far from rosy. Therefore, fraud encapsulated in shining golden logos and tall promises landed a fake cryptocurrency promoter straight into the throes of the law.
The narrative revolves around dual-citizen of Sweden and the United Kingdom, Sebastian Greenwood, who was the chief architect of this grand scam. The illusion spun around OneCoin did not play out as planned when Greenwood was arrested in Thailand in 2018. This culminated in a twenty-year-long prison sentence for Greenwood, handed out by the US federal court, which found him guilty of large-scale fraud.
In fact, it was no small feat. The orchestrated scheme had duped an enormous crowd of 3.5 million individuals out of a magnificent $4 billion. Greenwood, who fiercely pleaded guilty to his fraudulent scheming and money laundering maneuvers, ended up under the stern eye of US District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan.
Apart from serving a considerable term in prison, Greenwood was also mandated to forfeit a colossal $300 million. He was kept in detention in New York post his arrest in 2018, carried out at his elaborate home on Koh Samui, and followed by his subsequent extradition to the United States.
The intrigue around OneCoin goes deeper than Greenwood’s arrest and extradition. The Anti-Money Laundering Office in Thailand confiscated Greenwood’s considerable assets, which included 3.3 kilograms of gold bullion. This crackdown followed his arrest in Thailand in the year 2018.
The prosecutors cross-examining Greenwood’s the case were sternly advocating a sentence spanning at least 30 years, acknowledging Greenwood’s role as OneCoin’s “primary promoter.” He was the one hyping it up as the biggest thing since Bitcoin. Sadly, for many investors, the realization was bitter; OneCoin was merely a pyramid scheme wrapped up in the aura of a profitable investment.
The inception of OneCoin can be traced back to Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2014. It was founded by Greenwood and his partner-in-fraud, Ruja Ignatova, a German citizen also known as the Cryptoqueen. The FBI listed her as one of last year’s most-wanted fugitives, but Ignatova is yet to be found and brought to justice.
The Greenwood sentence serves as a premonition to all fraudulent operators in the cryptocurrency industry and plays out in the backdrop of the Manhattan prosecutor’s preparation for the trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried. Fried’s fraud and conspiracy charges stem from the collapse of his now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange in November 2022, even though he has pleaded not guilty to the charges.