John McAfee is accused by the US Justice of fraud in action with cryptocurrencies

John McAfee, one of the pioneers of antivirus software, was not famous - and a millionaire - just for the programs that make our PCs more protected. Today, he is best known for his problems with justice in several countries. And his last occurrence in this area happened last Friday (05): the US Department of Justice indicted him for fraud and conspiracy to launder money resulting from two schemes involving cryptocurrencies.

U.S. officials have accused McAfee and his bodyguard, Jimmy Gale Watson Jr., of exploiting the former's Twitter to artificially inflate Altcoin cryptocurrency prices. The practice would have been carried out through a scheme called pump-and-dump, hiding payments that McAfee would have received from start-ups to promote offers of this digital currency.

Authorities said McAfee praised several cryptocurrency assets, including Verge, Reddcoin and Dogecoin. They were part of a tweet called Coin of the Day or Coin of the Week posted on McAfee's profile between December 2017 and February 2018.

Authorities said that in these publications, McAfee considered himself an expert on cybersecurity and cryptocurrency, in addition to adopting a speech promoting his role as CEO of a publicly-traded cryptocurrency company. Prosecutors also accused him of telling followers that he had no stake in digital currencies, even when he boasted about how they “would change the world”.

The Justice Department said McAfee and his accomplices raised more than $ 13 million from the schemes. The charges were brought before the federal court in Manhattan. In addition, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission - the US entity that regulates the futures and options market - filed civil lawsuits related to the alleged scheme.

Both also face civil charges filed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) - the United States Securities and Exchange Commission - which, last October, accused John McAfee of hiding more than $ 23.1 million, gained from the increase of seven cryptocurrency offers that would also have been artificially inflated on Twitter.

Defendants defend themselves

In a statement released to the press last Friday, Audrey Strauss, a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, stated that:

"As alleged, [John] McAfee and [Jimmy Gale] Watson exploited a widely used social media platform and the enthusiasm among investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market to make millions through lies and deceptive practices."

McAfee's lawyers could not be reached immediately. That's because the businessman faces charges in Spain too after being arrested for tax evasion, announced in October last year, the Justice Department said.

However, on his Twitter profile, McAffe defends himself. He claims:

My team evaluated each promotion based on management, business plans and potential. No one could have predicted the breakdown of the Altcoin market.

We were paid with the same coins that broke. The SEC's claims are exaggerated.

The SEC allegations:

My team evaluated every promotion based on management, business plans and potential. No one could have foreseen the altcoin market crash.

We were paid in the same coins that crashed. The SEC allegations are overblown.

- John McAfee (@officialmcafee) March 6, 2021

Jimmy Gale Watson Jr. was arrested last night in Texas. Arnold Spencer, the bodyguard's lawyer, said in a statement:

“Jimmy Watson is a decorated US Navy veteran. He fought for the rights and freedoms of others, has the right of defense and looks forward to his day in court to exercise that right ”.

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