FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. stated the allegations boil all the way down to “an age-old pump-and-dump scheme.” The DOJ alleges McAfee, Watson and others would purchase cryptocurrencies, hype them to McAfee’s Twitter followers, which numbered about 784,000 on the time, to spice up costs after which promote for a revenue — along with selling cryptocurrency choices with out disclosing they have been allegedly receiving fee to take action.
The 2 males are charged with a number of counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, in addition to a single rely of conspiracy to commit cash laundering. In line with the indictment, if convicted of all costs, every may resist 100 years in jail and monetary penalties.
The DOJ stated the Securities and Trade Fee and the Commodities Futures Buying and selling Fee have additionally filed civil costs in opposition to McAfee and Watson in parallel enforcement actions.
McAfee is at present detained in Spain on different prison costs. It was not clear who’s legally representing McAfee or Watson on this case. CNN Enterprise despatched an electronic mail to Janice McAfee, McAfee’s spouse, in an effort to succeed in him for remark.
It isn’t the primary time McAfee — founding father of the eponymous antivirus software program agency, with which he’s not affiliated — has had a run-in with the legislation.
The indictment filed Friday particulars two schemes McAfee and Watson and different unnamed “McAfee Group members” allegedly carried out from December 2017 to October 2018 that prosecutors say defrauded cryptocurrency traders.
The alleged schemes
The primary is an alleged “pump-and-dump” scheme through which prosecutors declare the group purchased up giant numbers of publicly traded cryptocurrency “altcoins” at low costs earlier than McAfee used his Twitter account to suggest that folks purchase these cryptocurrencies — with out disclosing that he owned them. After the tweets helped inflate the cryptocurrencies’ market worth, the DOJ alleges McAfee and the staff bought off their positions on the greater costs.
“Via this scalping scheme, McAfee and different McAfee staff members … collectively earned greater than $2 million in illicit income whereas the long-term worth of the beneficial altcoins bought by traders declined considerably as of a 12 months after the promotional tweets,” courtroom paperwork state.
Within the second alleged scheme, McAfee and his staff used his Twitter account to advertise preliminary coin choices, with out disclosing that he was being compensated by the ICO issuers for his tweets. The Securities and Trade Fee had beforehand warned that securities legislation required disclosing any compensation earned from publicly selling preliminary coin choices on behalf of the issuers.
McAfee and his staff earned greater than $11 million in “undisclosed compensation that they took steps to affirmatively conceal from ICO traders,” the grievance states.
“When partaking in criminal activity, merely discovering new methods to hold out previous methods will not produce completely different outcomes,” the FBI’s Sweeney stated about using social media to hold out the alleged schemes.