Antivirus pioneer John McAfee has been charged with fraud and money laundering by prosecutors in New York. The businessman and one-time presidential candidate is accused of fraudulently promoting cryptocurrency on social media.
An indictment against McAfee was unsealed on Friday, and names both him and Jimmy Gale Watson – an adviser to McAfee – as defendants in a fraud and money laundering case. The pair are accused of using McAfee’s social media accounts to publicize various cryptocurrencies, inflating their value and allegedly netting McAfee more than $13 million. Another member of the McAfee team was allegedly tasked with laundering this money in a series of banking transactions.
“As alleged, McAfee and Watson used social media to perpetrate an age-old pump-and-dump scheme,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a Justice Department press release, referring to the practice of buying assets cheaply, before hyping up their value and selling them at this new, artificial price.
McAfee has long considered himself an outlaw, and spent much of the last several years living on a yacht in the Caribbean, admittedly on the run from US tax authorities. He turned up in Spain last September and was arrested there the following month, awaiting extradition to the US to face tax evasion charges, as well as the latest fraud and money laundering accusations.
McAfee has continued to tweet his musings and observations from behind bars, while his wife, Janice McAfee, last month put out a message looking for American lawyers, preferably with a “sound understanding of cryptocurrency.”
John’s extradition case is at the point that he needs an American lawyer to work with his Spanish lawyers. Preferably someone from Tennessee & has a sound understanding of cryptocurrency. Respond to email@example.com, include your hourly rate & a link to your office website.
— Janice McAfee (@theemrsmcafee) February 26, 2021
If convicted on all of the latest counts, McAfee could face up to 60 years in prison, on top of whatever sentence he could also receive for tax evasion.
I’m in my 76th year. In prison. Awaiting trial for extradition.Maybe not in the best position to be giving advice.But anyway…Believe nothing you hear. And be suspect even of your own eyes.A world ruled by the powerful, the clever and the corrupt is never what it seems.
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) February 6, 2021
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!