Rachel Sandler, 05 March 2021
John McAfee was indicted on securities fraud and money laundering charges, the Justice Department announced Friday, adding to the antivirus software pioneer’s litany of legal problems stemming from more than a decade of sometimes bizarre behavior.
McAfee and an advisor of his cryptocurrency team, Jimmy Watson Jr., were indicted on several counts of conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy offenses.
Prosecutors say McAfee and his cryptocurrency team used his Twitter account, which has a million followers, to promote Initial Coin Offerings without disclosing he was being paid by the ICO issuers to do so.
Separately, McAfee and his cryptocurrency team allegedly engaged in a pump-and-dump scheme, in which they bought large amounts of publicly traded altcoins, promoted them on his Twitter account to artificially inflate their value, then sold off the altcoins shortly after, to reap the short-term gains, all without disclosing their ownership.
Prosecutors allege McAfee and his team raked in $13 million from defrauding investors, including $2 million from the pump-and-dump scheme.
McAfee is detained in Spain awaiting extradition to the U.S. on separate tax evasion charges because he believes income taxation is unconstitutional, while Watson, who also acts as McAfee’s bodyguard, was arrested in Texas Thursday night..