An indictment against McAfee was unsealed on Friday, and names both him and Jimmy Gale Watson – an adviser to McAfee – as defendants in a fraud and money laundering case. The pair are accused of using McAfee’s social media accounts to publicize various cryptocurrencies, inflating their value and allegedly netting McAfee more than $13 million. Another member of the McAfee team was allegedly tasked with laundering this money in a series of banking transactions.
“As alleged, McAfee and Watson used social media to perpetrate an age-old pump-and-dump scheme,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a Justice Department press release, referring to the practice of buying assets cheaply, before hyping up their value and selling them at this new, artificial price.
McAfee has long considered himself an outlaw, and spent much of the last several years living on a yacht in the Caribbean, admittedly on the run from US tax authorities. He turned up in Spain last September and was arrested there the following month, awaiting extradition to the US to face tax evasion charges, as well as the latest fraud and money laundering accusations.
McAfee has continued to tweet his musings and observations from behind bars, while his wife, Janice McAfee, last month put out a message looking for American lawyers, preferably with a “sound understanding of cryptocurrency.”
If convicted on all of the latest counts, McAfee could face up to 60 years in prison, on top of whatever sentence he could also receive for tax evasion.