John McAfee
Source: Getty

John McAfee's Ties to Alleged Crypto Schemes, Explained

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Jun. 24 2021, Published 11:44 a.m. ET

John McAfee, the developer of the commonly-known McAfee antivirus software, was found dead in his cell in a Spanish prison on June 23. The cause of death is under investigation. The founder of McAfee started the company in 1987 and resigned in 1994. Recently, he was the subject of investigations into cryptocurrency schemes.

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In March 2021, McAfee was indicted on charges of fraud and money laundering conspiracy. He had already been arrested in Spain on charges of tax evasion in October 2020. McAfee was the target of multiple criminal investigations in recent years, including those involving cryptocurrency fraud.

What was the McAfee crypto fraud?

The 75-year-old founder of McAfee Corp. was under investigation by the SEC for a “pump and dump” scheme, NPR reported. In such a scheme, people attempt to manipulate the price of a stock or security through false, misleading, or exaggerated statements.

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john mcafee cryptocurrency
Source: Pixabay

The SEC alleged that McAfee had made $23 million through promoting certain cryptocurrencies on his personal Twitter account. The SEC lawsuit said, “McAfee's recommendations were materially false and misleading,” according to NPR. The federal authorities also filed a civil case against him based on the same set of allegations.

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McAfee was accused, along with his bodyguard Jimmy Gale Watson Jr., of using his large Twitter following to influence the price of altcoins to rise higher. The charges also included concealment of payments received from startups to promote cryptocurrencies.

In the cryptocurrency cases against McAfee, he is said to have pumped prices on Verge, Reddcoin, and Dogecoin, according to The Guardian. From tweets made around December 2017 to February 2018, authorities claimed that McAfee promoted himself as a crypto expert and posted to push his own “Coin of the Day” and “Coin of the Week.”

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In the 1990s, McAfee sold his stake in the company he had started for over $100 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. He was known for his luxurious lifestyle including a massive estate on an island off the coast of Belize.

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McAfee was named as a person of interest in a murder investigation in Belize. Although he was never considered a suspect in the crime, in 2012 he left the island and was charged with illegal entry into Guatemala while seeking political asylum.

McAfee on taxation

McAfee believed in civil disobedience and vocally opposed the concept of taxation. When he attempted a run for president in 2015, he gave an interview with Larry King. He spoke of the importance of “personal freedom and personal privacy,” according to NPR.

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In a 2019 tweet, McAfee listed his reasons for not filing taxes for the previous eight years, including his belief that “taxation is theft.” He was detained in Spain beginning in October 2020 for charges of tax evasion.

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Whackd crypto token

McAfee created his own cryptocurrency token, WHACKD, to sell on the McAfeeDEX website and not on other cryptocurrency exchanges. The crypto token was referenced in a November 2019 tweet in which McAfee showed a photo of his newly completed tattoo, which read $WHACKD.

The tattoo represented McAfee’s claim that if he ever were to die by suicide, people should blame U.S. authorities for his death. He tweeted that he had gotten the tattoo as a reminder that “If I suicide myself, I didn’t. I was whackd.”

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the ​National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.


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