John McAfee—the tech entrepreneur who’s currently sitting in a Spanish prison pending extradition to the US—is now facing new charges of fraud and money laundering.
The US attorney for the Southern District of New York announced this morning that McAfee has been charged with “conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities and touting fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and substantive wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy offenses.”
A member of McAfee’s crypto advisory team, Jimmy Watson, has also been charged. He was arrested last night in Texas, the Justice Department said.
The allegations revolve around two of McAfee’s endeavors in crypto. The first is a “pump-and-dump” scheme, where McAfee and his team allegedly purchased altcoins, promoted them on Twitter (Mcafee’s tweets have been known to double the prices of coins like Electroneum), and sold them when they’d juiced the price enough to make a profit. The second involves multiple ICOs that McAfee allegedly promoted without disclosing he was paid to do so.
“As alleged, McAfee and Watson used social media to perpetrate an age-old pump-and-dump scheme that earned them nearly two million dollars,” said FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. in a statement. “Additionally, they allegedly used 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.”
McAfee has repeatedly dared authorities to come after him: in 2018, he vowed to “rip the SEC a new asshole.”
McAfee remains detained in Spain on tax evasion charges.
Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to provide additional details regarding McAfee's indictment.