John McAfee Charged in Crypto Pump-and-Dump Scheme

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In Brief
  • John McAfee has been charged by the U.S. DoJ for money laundering and fraud.

  • The charges relate to an alleged pump-and-dump scheme.

  • McAfee is also facing charges related to promoting ICOs.

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John McAfee has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for money laundering and fraud following allegations he operated a pump-and-dump scheme netting over $2 million.



John McAfee is well known within the cryptocurrency space. McAfee was a popular figurehead in the space during the bull run of 2017 and 2018. The hype around Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) was similar to that of the Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) craze currently underway.

However, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) claims that McAfee took advantage of the ICO craze. FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney states that McAfee was “allegedly using the same social media platform to promote the sale of digital tokens on behalf of ICO issuers without disclosing to investors the compensation they were receiving to tout these securities on behalf of the ICO”. 



Southern District of New York Attorney Audrey Strauss also explained in a press release that John McAfee and his executive adviser, Jimmy Watson Jr, “allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to publish messages to hundreds of thousands of his Twitter followers touting various cryptocurrencies through false and misleading statements to conceal their true, self-interested motives.  McAfee, Watson, and other members of McAfee’s cryptocurrency team allegedly raked in more than $13 million from investors they victimized with their fraudulent schemes.”

The press release also explains that McAfee and Watson committed pump-and-dump schemes that earned them over $2 million. 

The actions of McAfee and Watson have now landed them in hot water with the federal courts. Both are facing charges of conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities and touting fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and substantive wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering.

All-in all the maximum sentence with regards equals 60 years of potential prison time for the couple. 

Not the First Time

McAfee faced arrest in Spain on US tax evasion charges. He had been traveling the world on his yacht. This allowed him to avoid being arrested by the U.S Government for the tax evasion charges. 

McAfee was also very vocal about not paying taxes. 

McAfee had previously been a Twitter superstar in the cryptocurrency space, actively engaging with followers and backing projects continuously. He also had a ‘coin of the day’ which would consequently pump after he named the project to buy.

However, his fame rose for being one of the first people to forecast $500,000 Bitcoin. He famously changed that target to $1 million. 

The McAfee software creator even stated he would eat his own penis on television. That’s how confident he was of Bitcoin reaching that target. 

It seems that time has now run out for McAfee. The iconoclast has spent much of the last year running from the law. He will likely face the full might of the law, and severe punishment is expected. 

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Ryan is a Fintech specialist with a passion for cryptocurrencies and blockchain adoption. He discovered Bitcoin in 2016 when investing in a Ponzi scheme, and it was the best decision he ever made.

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