Twitter scam: John McAfee charged with crypto fraud
Another charge against John McAfee is making headlines. Is the entrepreneur really in for it this time?
Anti-virus inventor and self-proclaimed crypto guru John McAfee is once again facing charges in the US. The prosecution accuses him and his advisor Jimmy Gale Watson of Bitcoin Evolution conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering. If convicted of the crypto-related offences, both face a hefty fine and years in prison.
McAfee is currently in Spain. Authorities there had already arrested him in October on behalf of their US counterparts. In addition to the fraud charges, they accuse him of tax evasion. An extradition request to the USA has already been filed.
The fraud affair now brought to trial involves Twitter statements made by McAfee, Watson and other members of McAfee’s crypto team. The prosecutor in charge, Audrey Strauss, stated that between December 2017 and October 2018, the two had enriched themselves through „lies and deception“ on a grand scale. She stated:
The defendants allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to send messages to hundreds of thousands of his Twitter followers touting various cryptocurrencies with false and misleading statements to disguise their true, self-serving motives. McAfee, Watson and other members of McAfee’s cryptocurrency team allegedly collected more than US$13 million from investors they victimised with their fraudulent schemes.
Strauss, meanwhile, advised investors against following investment tips on social media platforms.
McAfee scammed 13 million US dollars
According to the public prosecutor’s office, McAfee and his associates carried out two different scams. In the first, they first acquired large amounts of altcoins. They then began to advertise those same altcoins on Twitter, while McAfee kept his own investments quiet. After the coins had risen in value, the alleged fraudsters dumped them again. The accomplices made a profit of two million US dollars, while the majority of the deceived investors made losses. William F. Sweeney, a senior FBI official, therefore called this an „age-old pump-and-dump scheme.“
McAfee’s other fraud scheme was even more profitable. He negotiated sponsorship deals with companies that conducted Intitial Coin Offerings. He then began touting the ICOs on Twitter. Of course, he did not mention that he received payment for these tweets. Through the ICOs, the alleged fraudsters took in 11 million US dollars.
afterwards, McAfee and Watson carried out a series of measures to convert the illegally acquired funds into US dollars and launder them. They potentially face up to 20 years in prison.