Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

SecurityWeekSecurityWeek

Cybercrime

Software Icon McAfee Charged in Cryptocurrency Scam

The creator of McAfee computer security software faces charges he cashed in on a “pump-and-dump” scheme, promoting cryptocurrencies on Twitter to drive up their value.

The creator of McAfee computer security software faces charges he cashed in on a “pump-and-dump” scheme, promoting cryptocurrencies on Twitter to drive up their value.

John McAfee, founder of the antivirus firm that bears his name, and Jimmy Watson face charges of conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering in connection with schemes to trick cryptocurrency investors, according to an indictment unsealed by the US Department of Justice.

“McAfee and Watson exploited a widely used social media platform and enthusiasm among investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market to make millions through lies and deception,” US attorney Audrey Strauss said in a release.

McAfee, Watson, and other members of their “cryptocurrency team” are accused of raking in millions of dollars from investors they duped, according to Strauss.

Pump-and-dump schemes typically involve over-hyping the value of stocks or, in this case cryptocurrency, by holders so that they can be sold at artificially high prices.

“McAfee and Watson used social media to perpetrate an age-old pump-and-dump scheme,” FBI assistant director William Sweeney said.

“When engaging in illegal activity, simply finding new ways to carry out old tricks won’t produce different results.”

McAfee and Watson also used Twitter to promote digital tokens on behalf of initial coin offerings without disclosing they were being paid for their efforts by the startups, according to the indictment.

McAfee, 75, is in custody in Spain pending a decision on his extradition to the United States where he is wanted for tax evasion.

He has been held at a prison near Barcelona since he was arrested in the Spanish city in October just as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul.

The arrest followed his indictment in June in the United States for tax evasion and wilful failure to file tax returns between 2014 and 2018, despite earning millions from consulting work, cryptocurrencies and selling the rights to his life story.

Since making a fortune with his eponymous antivirus software in the 1980s, McAfee has become a self-styled cryptocurrency guru.

He has one million followers on Twitter, where he describes himself as a “lover of women, adventure and mystery”.

McAfee made headlines after he moved to Belize and his neighbor in the Central American country was mysteriously murdered in 2012, a crime that remains unsolved.

Written By

AFP 2023

Click to comment

Expert Insights

Related Content

Cybercrime

Zendesk is informing customers about a data breach that started with an SMS phishing campaign targeting the company’s employees.

Cybercrime

The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 has demonstrated the potential of AI for both good and bad.

Cybercrime

The FBI dismantled the network of the prolific Hive ransomware gang and seized infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used for the operation.

Cybercrime

A new study by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) named a staggering figure as the true annual cost of...

Ransomware

US government reminds the public that a reward of up to $10 million is offered for information on cybercriminals, including members of the Hive...

Ransomware

The Hive ransomware website has been seized as part of an operation that involved law enforcement in 10 countries.

Cybercrime

Video games developer Riot Games says source code was stolen from its development environment in a ransomware attack

Cybercrime

CISA, NSA, and MS-ISAC issued an alert on the malicious use of RMM software to steal money from bank accounts.