Software guru John McAfee charged in crypto fraud

Chennai: John McAfee, creator of the McAfee anti-virus software, has been charged in the US with conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.

He was facing charges that he cashed in on a ‘pump-and-dump’ scheme, by promoting cryptocurrencies on Twitter to drive up their value.

McAfee and his bodyguard Jimmy Gale Watson Jr are accused of promoting cryptocurrencies to Mr McAfee’s large Twitter following to inflate prices.
The currencies were then allegedly sold, making the pair $2m (£1.45m), prosecutors said.

‘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,’ US attorney Audrey Strauss said in a release.

McAfee, Watson, and other members of their ‘cryptocurrency team’ allegedly raked in more than $13 million from investors they victimized with their fraudulent schemes, according to Strauss.

‘McAfee and Watson used social media to perpetrate an age-old pump-and-dump scheme,’ FBI assistant director William Sweeney said.

Pump-and-dump schemes typically involve over-hyping the value of stocks or, in this case cryptocurrency, by holders so that they can be sold at artificially high prices.