John McAfee’s name is synonymous with one of the worlds largest antivirus company’s still bearing his name, has been indicted on fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges stemming from two cryptocurrency schemes, the US Department of Justice said on Friday.
Authorities accused McAfee and his bodyguard, Jimmy Gale Watson Jr, of exploiting McAfee’s large Twitter following to artificially inflate prices of “altcoins” through a pump-and-dump scheme, and concealing payments McAfee received from startup businesses to promote initial coin offerings.
McAfee and his accomplices allegedly reaped more than $13m from the schemes, according to the US Department of Justice. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed related civil charges concerning the alleged pump-and-dump scheme.
Lawyers for McAfee and Watson could not immediately be identified.The latest charges were filed in the Manhattan federal court in New York. The pair are accused of buying the cryptocurrency assets before promoting them on Twitter, where Mr McAfee has more than one million followers.
They would then sell the assets as soon as Mr McAfee’s endorsements saw prices rise, according to the US justice department and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. They allegedly made a further $11m (£8m) in payments from cryptocurrency start-ups for promoting their assets on Twitter, payments which were not disclosed to investors who bought them.
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