Bulgarian woman charged for role in multibillion-dollar cryptocurrency pyramid scheme “OneCoin” and extradited from Bulgaria to the United States


Dilkinska was head of Legal and Compliance for fraudulent cryptocurrency marketed and sold to millions of victims around the world, resulting in billions of dollars in losses

Date: March 21, 2023

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Thomas Fattorusso, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, New York Field Office (IRS-CI), and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced today the unsealing of charges against Irina Dilkinska in connection with her participation in the massive OneCoin fraud scheme. OneCoin, which began operations in 2014 and was based in Sofia, Bulgaria, marketed and sold a fraudulent cryptocurrency by the same name through a global multi-level-marketing (MLM) network. As a result of misrepresentations made about OneCoin, victims invested over $4 billion worldwide in the fraudulent cryptocurrency. Dilkinska was extradited from Bulgaria yesterday and will be presented before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn later today.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: "Irina Dilkinska, the supposed Head of Legal and Compliance for the OneCoin cryptocurrency pyramid scheme, accomplished the exact opposite of her job title and allegedly enabled OneCoin to launder millions of dollars of illegal proceeds through shell companies. Dilkinska helped perpetuate a wide-ranging scheme with millions of victims and billions of dollars in losses, and she will now face justice for her alleged crimes."

IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso said: "The charges against Irina Dilkinska are the outcome of the exceptional investigative work of our federal and international law enforcement partners. Those who commit fraud are put on notice today that IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to holding them accountable no matter where they are located."

FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said: "As alleged in the charges unsealed today, Dilkinska helped her co-conspirator, Mark Scott, launder approximately $400 million in OneCoin proceeds while she was purportedly OneCoin's Head of Legal and Compliance. Further, when she learned of Scott's arrest, she destroyed incriminating documents and sent another co-conspirator incriminating messages. As the actions announced today should demonstrate, the FBI will continue its determination to bring alleged fraudsters like Dilkinska to justice."

The entirety of the text of the indictment and the descriptions of the indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation. According to the allegations in the superseding indictment and other filings and statements made in court.

In 2014, Ruja Ignatova, a/k/a "the Cryptoqueen," and Karl Sebastian Greenwood co-founded OneCoin, a company based in Sofia, Bulgaria, that marketed a purported cryptocurrency by the same name, which was in fact a fraudulent pyramid scheme. OneCoin has operated using several corporate entities and d/b/a names, including "OneCoin Ltd.," "OnePayments Ltd.," "OneNetwork Services Ltd.," "OneAcademy," and "OneLife." These entities and d/b/a names are referred to collectively here as "OneCoin." OneCoin operated as a MLM network through which members received commissions for recruiting others to purchase cryptocurrency packages. This MLM structure influenced rapid growth of the OneCoin member network. Indeed, according to OneCoin's promotional materials, over three million people invested in fraudulent cryptocurrency packages. OneCoin records show that, between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2016 alone, OneCoin generated €4.037 billion in sales revenue and earned "profits" of €2.735 billion.

Dilkinska was the purported Head of Legal and Compliance for OneCoin, but rather than ensuring that OneCoin complied with the law, Dilkinska assisted in the creation and management of shell companies in order to launder OneCoin proceeds and to hold property belonging to Ignatova. For example, in 2016 and 2017, Dilkinska helped co-conspirator Mark Scott, a former equity partner at a prominent international law firm, launder approximately $400 million in OneCoin proceeds through a series of fake Cayman Islands investment funds operated by Scott. Among other things, Dilkinska used a company named B&N Consult EEOD, which was falsely described as offering "proprietary consulting services, support and software solutions" to its clients and as generating €200 million in 2015 through 2016, to disguise the transfer of millions of dollars as purported "investments" into Scott's funds. In reality, B&N was a shell company that did not generate legitimate income and was used by Dilkinska to launder OneCoin proceeds. In or around September 2018, Dilkinska learned of Scott's arrest in connection with his laundering of OneCoin proceeds. Shortly thereafter, Dilkinska burned incriminating documents, sent co-conspirator Konstantin Ignatov a text message with a link to a newspaper article about the arrest, and then wrote a series of texts, including, "See this!!!!!"; "Something is going on!!!!!"; and "If this is true I need the mega lawyers for whom [co-conspirator Frank Schneider] was talking!!!"

On October 12, 2017, Ignatova was charged with OneCoin-related fraud and money laundering charges in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and a federal warrant was issued for her arrest. On October 25, 2017, Ignatova traveled on a commercial flight from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Athens, Greece, and has not been seen publicly since. Ignatova was added to the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted List in June 2022. The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to Ignatova's arrest.

Dilkinska, of Sofia, Bulgaria, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the IRS-CI and the FBI, which jointly conducted this investigation with Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney's Office. Mr. Williams also thanked the United States Marshals Service, the Justice Department's Office of International Affairs, and Bulgarian authorities.

If you have any information about Ignatova's whereabouts, please contact your local FBI office or the nearest American embassy or consulate. Tips can be reported anonymously and can also be reported online at FBI-Tips.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office's Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. DiMase, Nicholas Folly, Juliana N. Murray, and Kevin Mead are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.