John McAfee, founder of cybersecurity firm McAfee and his executive advisor Jimmy Gale Watson Jr was charged by U.S. federal prosecutors for cryptocurrency fraud and money laundering.
McAfee, Watson, and other members of the McAfee Team collected over $13 million from two cryptocurrency pump-and-dump schemes, according to court documents.
Between December 2017 and January 2018, the team got over $2 million in illicit profits via altcoin scalping, a fraudulent practice known as a ‘pump and dump’ scheme.
From December 2017 through 2018, they earned around $11 million by running a parallel scheme being paid to promote the initial coin offerings (ICOs) of multiple startups while concealing the payments they receive from ICO investors.
Also, between December 2017 and October 2018, McAfee, Watson, and another team member laundered the digital asset proceeds stemming from the scalping and ICO touting schemes.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said that the accused allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to publish messages to thousands of his Twitter followers touting various cryptocurrencies through false and misleading statements to conceal their true, self-interested motives.
McAfee and Watson were charged in a seven-count indictment, with each count carrying maximum potential sentences of between five and 20 years in prison.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also filed civil charges against McAfee in a separate enforcement action.
He was indicted for being paid over $23 million in digital assets while pretending to be impartial and independent of the ICOs he was promoting.
McAfee was arrested and is currently being detained in Spain on separate tax evasion charges filed by the US Justice Department’s Tax Division last year.