Antivirus software program mogul John McAfee, who has been awaiting extradition from Spain on tax evasion charges since late final 12 months, simply had his authorized woes compounded by federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Friday morning. The 75-year-old laptop programmer now additionally stands accused of a $13 million fraud and cash laundering scheme.
Prosecutors declare that McAfee and Jimmy Gale Watson Jr., an government adviser of his cryptocurrency crew, engaged in a “pump-and-dump” scheme often known as “scalping,” the place they purchased massive portions of publicly traded cryptocurrency altcoins at low-cost charges to be peddled on social media.
“As alleged, McAfee and Watson exploited a broadly used social media platform and enthusiasm amongst buyers within the rising cryptocurrency market to make tens of millions by means of lies and deception,” Manhattan U.S. Legal professional Audrey Strauss wrote in an announcement. “The defendants allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to publish messages to a whole lot of 1000’s of his Twitter followers touting varied cryptocurrencies by means of false and deceptive statements to hide their true, self-interested motives. McAfee, Watson, and different members of McAfee’s cryptocurrency crew allegedly raked in additional than $13 million from buyers they victimized with their fraudulent schemes. Buyers must be cautious of social media endorsements of funding alternatives.”
McAfee now has greater than 1,000,000 followers on his verified Twitter account, the place he promoted his altcoins in messages embedded in his prison criticism.
McAfee tweeted these altcoin endorsements on his verified account with out disclosing that he owned massive portions of them, regardless that he falsely promised transparency, prosecutors declare.
Along with different members of his crew, McAfee allegedly offered his funding place in that vital short-term worth enhance that his tweets generated, however the long-term worth of the altcoin often declined considerably within the 12 months following his tweets, in accordance with the criticism.
Prosecutors say that the primary time McAfee efficiently carried out this scheme occurred in mid-December 2017, with an altcoin referred to as Verge (XVG).
On Dec. 21, 2017, an XVG investor pressed McAfee on whether or not he purchased the altcoin earlier than he promoted it, and the antivirus guru falsely denied it, prosecutors says.
“I purchased completely none in any respect,” the criticism quotes McAfee as responding. “I couldn’t put it up for sale if I owned it.”
4 days after McAfee allegedly promoted XVG in a tweet and Dec. 13, 2017, the market worth of the tokens spiked by greater than 500%, in accordance with the criticism.
McAfee and an unidentified alleged co-conspirator scalped no less than 11 extra altcoins between Dec. 20, 2017 and Jan. 28, 2018: Electroneum, Burstcoin, DigiByte, Reddcoin, Humaniq, Tron, Factom, Dogecoin, Stellar Lumen, Syscoin and Ripio Credit score Community tokens, prosecutors say.
Watson, 40, was arrested on Thursday evening in Texas and might be introduced earlier than a federal decide there on Friday.
Each McAfee and Watson face a seven-count indictment alleging one depend of conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, one depend of conspiracy to commit securities and touting fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of substantive wire fraud, and one depend of conspiracy to commit cash laundering, carrying a mixed potential publicity of many years imprisonment.
Learn their indictment and McAfee’s prison criticism under:
(Photograph by ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP by way of Getty Pictures)
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