John McAfee faces bribery and money laundering charges under the ‘pump-and-dump’ crypto scheme

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He and the co-conspirator could face a combined term of 100 years

Bad boy John McAfee is back in trouble. Federal prosecutors charged him and an associate with stock fraud and money laundering linked to the bitcoin pump-and-dump scheme. If they were guilty on both charges, they could face up to 100 years in jail.

The US District Court case, unsealed on Friday, charges John David McAfee and Jimmy Gale Watson Jr with racketeering-related crimes. If convicted on all counts, the two could face up to 100 years in prison.

According to court filings, between December 2017 and October 2018, McAfee and its executive assistant Watson reportedly urged Twitter followers to invest in numerous cryptocurrencies, including Verge, Reddcoin, Dogecoin and others. The two then sold off their own shares as prices soared, gaining nearly $2 million in profits, and losing taxpayers more than $13 million.

“As alleged, McAfee and Watson used social media to perpetrate an age-old pump-and-dump scheme that earned them nearly two million dollars,” said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney in a DoJ press release.

“McAfee, Watson, and other members of McAfee’s cryptocurrency team allegedly raked in more than $13 million from investors they victimized with their fraudulent schemes,” Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss added.

McAfee and Watson face seven counts, with potential sentences of five to 20 years in prison. Charges cover wire fraud, merchandise and securities fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. They will also be expected to pay an undisclosed sum for restitution.

This is not McAfee’s first legal run-in. The computer pioneer again spent much of 2019 and 2020 hiding from the US authorities trying to put him to justice for multiple years of tax evasion. He was consequently detained in Spain last October and extradited to the United States. In 2012, McAfee was detained in Guatemala for entering the country unlawfully and returned to Belize, where he was wanted for allegedly hitting his neighbour. In that case, he was sentenced to pay $25 million, but he did not act, claiming that he was innocent.

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