Judge Edgardo Ramos of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, in a January 25, 2024, judgment, sentenced Mark Scott, the lawyer responsible for laundering $400 million for the OneCoin scam, to ten years behind bars for his involvement in the massive cryptocurrency scam and money laundering scheme.
The sentencing comes three years after his conviction in November 2019, with the court repeatedly postponing the event due to his ill health, and marks a milestone in his extended legal battle with the United States government. Recall that Mr. Mark Scott was one of the insiders of the Onecoin crypto scam. Throughout its operations, the lawyer reportedly laundered over $400 million for Ruja Igantova, the so-called ‘crypto queen’ purportedly earning $50 million in the process.
In his defense, lawyers for Mark Scott argued his ignorance of the fraudulent nature of the Onecoin scheme as the basis for his innocence.
About the OneCoin Crypto Scam
In 2014, Bulgarian national Ruja Ignatova, the so-called “crypto queen”, founded OneCoin, a crypto-based multi-level marketing scheme operated by OneCoin Limited and OneLife Network Limited. The scheme had two parts: the cryptocurrency arm and the MLM arm, which (later) unfolded as scams. The crypto arm aggressively marketed the OneCoin token, claiming the existence of 120 billion coins in circulation that users could mine and make payments with. However, the individuals behind the scheme did not demonstrate it ran on a blockchain or provable payment system.
On the other hand, there was the MLM arm selling courses on cryptocurrencies, investment, and trading. OneCoin sold the courses through an elaborate multi-level marketing scheme that promised to reward users with tokens that could be used to mine OneCoin when they invite other people to purchase the same learning materials.
It turned out that the OneCoin cryptocurrency was a massive fraud, as it was never actively traded and thus had no value. The valueless nature of the coins made mining the tokens useless, exposing the OneCoin scheme as one of the largest crypto fraud schemes. In 2017, founder Ruja Ignatova fled the Bulgaria office of the company and went into hiding.
Karl Sebastian Greenwood, Irina Dilinska, and Mark Scott, partners in the fraud, were arrested in the United States, officially commencing their arduous legal battle against the US government.
OneCoin Co-founder Sentenced and Compliance Chief Awaits Sentencing
Mr. Mark Scott is not the only OneCoin mastermind facing sentencing by the US government.
In September last year, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced that Karl Sebastian Greenwood, a OneCoin co-founder, received a 20-year prison sentence for his involvement in the massive cryptocurrency fraud. The same Judge Edgardo Ramos, who sentenced Mr. Mark Scott yesterday, delivered the judgment.
Similarly, Irina Dilkinska, the former Head of Legal and Compliance at OneCoin, pled guilty to money laundering and wire fraud, with the US Attorney’s Office accusing her of arranging for the movement of up to $110 million in fraudulent OneCoin proceeds. Her sentencing will occur on February 24, 2024, with her two charges carrying maximum sentences of five years behind bars each.
The “Crypto Queen” is Still at Large
While the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has secured significant wins against masterminds of the OneCoin scam, there is still a lot undone, as the founder, Ruja Ignatova (Crypto Queen), remains on the run. She fled the OneCoin office during a raid by the Bulgarian government in 2017 and has remained hidden since.
She is also not the only OneCoin mastermind on the run either; British citizen and resident Christopher Hamilton recently won a case challenging his planned extradition to the United States, with a British High Court judge ordering UK police to prosecute him in the UK, as he committed most of the crimes on British soil.
Hamilton currently has a pending indictment against him in the United States, with the US government accusing the British resident of conspiracies to commit money laundering and wire fraud, causing over three million victims to lose over $4 billion.
With the UK police not particularly interested in prosecuting the OneCoin fraud case, Christopher Hamilton may succeed in avoiding prosecution without going into hiding if the existing High Court ruling on his extradition stands.