Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. TV & Radio
30 October 2019updated 03 Aug 2021 2:50pm

The Missing Cryptoqueen is a truly gripping podcast

The tension is hideous. I am a blinking cursor, anticipating instructions.

By Antonia Quirke

“Hello, Jamie here. I know you’re expecting episode seven, but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer…”

A thoroughly eyebrow raising, then furrowing 90-second edition of the best podcast yet produced by BBC Sounds. Forget Tunnel 29, the aggressively hyped but dragged-out series about digging from East to West Berlin in the 1960s. The Missing Cryptoqueen, released weekly since 19 September, is much more nimble, a real endeavour. Presenter/producers Jamie Bartlett and Georgia Catt have travelled across an upmarket marina in Bulgaria, a Kampala slum, a metallurgic factory in South Germany and a crystal-littered mansion in the Netherlands, all in search of Dr Ruja Ignatova, the glamorous and amoral founder of a fake crypto currency called OneCoin who persuaded thousands to part with their cash to fund her outrageously fraudulent enterprise.

It’s a $4bn Ponzi-scheme with gaggles of investors still in its thrall. Many cultishly deny that OneCoin is a scam even now, still holding out for possible redemption. Everyone attached seems crazed to some degree, with the fire not just of impending wealth (and the fear of it slipping out of reach) but the notion that this was meant to be some sort of “revolution”. Freedom from banks and all attendant corruption. Fat chance!

I’ve never truly hung on for podcast instalments before. Not fully understood how charismatic a medium it can be. Quite how responsive and open – in this case, to a pile-up of apparent leads from computer forensic students in Pakistan, and algorithm translators in Malaysia, and listeners in Australia, Finland and Canada, all bent on uncovering the scale of the scam – which is frankly incredible. (In one Ugandan village, people have even traded all their land, homes and animals for OneCoin.)

What next? The tension is hideous. I am a blinking cursor, anticipating instructions. Being able to say to your listeners – bear with us while we scrap everything that was planned for this episode and make another, possibly better (but who knows), off the back of a new bit of information – just give us the weekend – how thrillingly confident. Form-defining stuff. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

The Missing Cryptoqueen
BBC Sounds

Content from our partners
What are the green skills of the future?
A global hub for content producers, gaming and entertainment companies in Abu Dhabi
Insurance: finding sustainable growth in stormy markets

This article appears in the 30 Oct 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Britain alone