The software developer John McAfee, also known for his eccentricity, is to be brought to court in the USA for fraud with cryptocurrencies and conspiracy to launder money. The US Department of Justice published an indictment on Friday. If convicted, McAfee faces years of imprisonment and heavy fines.
The entrepreneur is accused of using his popular Twitter account to mislead people in 2017 and 2018 who wanted to invest money in cryptocurrencies in the wake of a Bitcoin boom. McAfee and his helpers are also said to have earned millions of dollars because of false statements and a lack of disclosure about their own financial entanglements.
Two million dollars are said to go back to “pump and dumb” market manipulation. McAfee praised his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers to so-called Altcoins, cryptocurrencies that are less in the public eye than Bitcoin. McAfee and his helpers are said to have stocked themselves up with those Altcoins before making such purchase recommendations.
If the price of one of the niche currencies rose for a short time following a public recommendation by McAfee, the company’s own stocks were quickly sold at a higher price. In several other cases, McAfee allegedly got paid by companies to advertise so-called Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) without making this transparent to his followers.
John McAfee has not commented on the new allegations so far. According to the US authorities, the developer is still in Spain. The 75-year-old was arrested there in October at the instigation of US law enforcement officers. McAfee had already been charged with tax evasion and unfair advertising for cryptocurrencies.
It’s about $ 13 million in total
The US investigators are now accusing the entrepreneur and his adviser and bodyguard, who are also accused, of having swindled themselves with other people for a total of more than $ 13 million. McAfee and the bodyguard are charged on seven counts, each with a maximum prison sentence of 5 to 20 years, according to the Justice Department.
FBI assistant director William F. Sweeney Jr. said Friday that in illegal activity, “finding new ways to perform old tricks does not lead to different results.” Investment fraud and money laundering schemes would be severely punished.
In the 1980s, John McAfee founded the anti-virus software company named after him, McAfee, from which he retired in the 1990s. But McAfee never got quiet. In 2012, for example, he made headlines for an adventurous escape through the jungle when he was wanted after a murder of his neighbor in Belize.
There are several documentaries about John McAfee. Next Wednesday, ZDFinfo will show the film “John McAfee – The bizarre life of the software millionaire”.