John McAfee indicted on cryptocurrency fraud fees

John McAfee

Paula Bustamante | AFP | Getty Pictures

Federal prosecutors on Friday accused antivirus software program firm founder John McAfee and his affiliate of orchestrating fraudulent schemes to rake in tens of millions of {dollars} from cryptocurrency traders.

McAfee, 75, and his “cryptocurrency staff” advisor Jimmy Watson, 40, allegedly engaged in an “age-old pump-and-dump scheme,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. stated in a press launch asserting the indictment in Manhattan federal courtroom.

McAfee, who presents a larger-than-life on-line persona and has twice run for president, is currently being held in Spain, the place he faces separate felony tax evasion fees. McAfee resigned from the antivirus firm he based in 1994, however in 2013 created a profane parody video explaining how customers can uninstall the software program. In 2019, he was ordered to pay $25 million in damages over the killing of a former neighbor in Belize in 2012.

Within the “scalping” scheme, McAfee and his staff allegedly purchased giant quantities of low cost cryptocurrency altcoins, then aggressively promoted them on-line with “false and deceptive endorsement tweets” to artificially inflate their market costs.

“McAfee Workforce members collectively earned greater than $2 million in illicit income from their altcoin scalping actions,” the Division of Justice alleges.

The pair additionally used McAfee’s common Twitter account to tout “varied cryptocurrencies by way of false and deceptive statements to hide their true, self-interested motives,” Manhattan U.S. Lawyer Audrey Strauss stated within the launch from the Justice Division.

The staff would use social media to tout crypto startups’ fundraising occasions whereas concealing that they had been being compensated for the promotional tweets, the press launch alleges.

McAfee, Watson and the remainder of his staff earned “greater than $11 million in undisclosed compensation that they took steps to affirmatively conceal” from traders, the grand jury indictment says.

McAfee and Watson are charged with commodities and securities fraud conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, touting fraud conspiracy and cash laundering conspiracy.

Watson was arrested Thursday in Texas and can seem earlier than a decide later Friday.

The press launch famous that the U.S. Securities and Change Fee and the Commodity Futures Buying and selling Fee have filed separate civil fees in opposition to McAfee and Watson.

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