- John McAfee has been formally charged with a litany of fraud and money laundering charges
- McAfee and his executive advisor Jimmy Watson Jr could face up to 40 years in prison
- McAfee hasn’t filed a tax return in four years, during which time he allegedly amassed $13 million on the back of illegal sponsored tweets
John McAfee, the anti-establishment renegade who was arrested in Spain in October on the orders of U.S. authorities, has been formally charged with fraud and money laundering charges by the Department of Justice (DoJ). McAfee, who was famous in 2017 for his Coin of the Week promotional tweets, allegedly made more than $13 million by promoting the coins to his Twitter followers without disclosing that he was being sponsored to do so. McAfee, who fled Belize after the death of his neighbor in 2012, has spoken of his disdain for what he perceives as an oppressive government regime, and he could be about to see just how oppressive it can be.
Coin of the Week Haunts McAfee
McAfee has been charged alongside his what a DoJ filing calls his “executive advisor” Jimmy Watson Jr on a raft of charges relating to McAfee’s crypto activities, including wire fraud conspiracy, substantive wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy offenses. The crux of the charges relate to the last cryptocurrency bull run in 2017-2018 where McAfee would reveal his Coin of the Week on Twitter, with the result that his picks normally rocketed before dumping again shortly afterward.
The DoJ alleges that McAfee and Watson were paid handsomely for their promotional roles, which they never disclosed:
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”, adding that they did so “through false and misleading statements to conceal their true, self-interested motives.
“Age-old pump-and-dump Scheme”
The pair allegedly brought in $13 million from the exercise, with McAfee not filing a tax return since. The FBI is just as forthright, claiming that McAfee was engaged in nothing more than an “age-old pump-and-dump scheme”, alleging that McAfee and Watson also promoted cryptocurrencies they had just bought in order to artificially inflate the price and sell at the top.
Given that McAfee is 75 and the maximum sentence for his crimes is 45 years, he faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison, something that surely must have crossed his mind at some point in his checkered past.