The US Justice Department has charged anti-virus software creator John McAfee with conspiracy to commit fraud and money-laundering.
McAfee was accused of artificially inflating prices of “altcoins” through a so-called pump-and-dump scheme.
He was charged alongside his bodyguard, Jimmy Gale Watson Jr.
Authorities claimed he exploited his Twitter following by presenting himself as an expert on cybersecurity and cryptocurrency.
He did this through his tweets, speeches and his role as a CEO of a publicly-traded cryptocurrency company.
McAfee with the Twitter handle @officialmcafee has 1 million followers.
Authorities said McAfee and his accomplices made more than $13m (£9.4m at current prices) from the schemes.
According to Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss, “As alleged, McAfee and Watson exploited a widely used social media platform and enthusiasm among investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market to make millions through lies and deception.”
Money laundering allegations
In October 2020, McAfee was detained in Spain.
He was arrested on tax evasion charges.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission in October accused McAfee of hiding more than $23.1m (£16.7m at current prices) he made from boosting seven cryptocurrency offerings on Twitter.
Failed presidential ambition
The anti-virus creator announced his presidential ambition in September 2018.
McAfee said that he joined the presidential race to promote privacy and curtail government surveillance.
During the time, McAfee was quoted to have said that “If I didn’t enter, Donald Trump would’ve won.” However, Joe Biden won the election.
On March 4, 2020, McAfee simultaneously suspended his 2020 presidential campaign and announced his campaign for the Libertarian Party vice-presidential nomination.
The 75-year-old software creator failed to gain any momentum as an independent candidate.
About John McAfee
John David McAfee is an English-American computer programmer and businessman.
He founded the software company McAfee Associates in 1987 and ran it until 1994 when he resigned from the company.
The company was purchased by Intel in 2011 and spun back out in 2017 with TPG Capital owning a majority stake, though the software has always borne the McAfee brand name.