Software developer John McAfee, known for his eccentric personality, is to be tried in court in the U.S. for fraud charges with cryptocurrencies and conspiracy to launder money. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an indictment on Friday. McAfee is facing years of imprisonment and hefty fines if convicted.
He has been accused of misusing his Twitter handle to deceive people looking to invest money in cryptocurrencies amidst the Bitcoin boom in 2017 and 2018. McAfee and his aides have allegedly earned millions of dollars due to false statements and a lack of disclosure regarding their personal financial affairs.
An estimated $2 million can allegedly be traced back to “pump and dump” market manipulation. McAfee advised people to invest in Altcoins, a cryptocurrency that is not as well known as Bitcoin. He and his aides reportedly kept themselves stocked with Altcoins prior to making these purchase recommendations.
Following the short-term rise in price of one of the niche currencies on account of McAfee’s public recommendation, the company quickly sold its stocks at a higher price. In other instances, McAfee was paid by companies to endorse Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) without revealing the same to his followers.
The McAfee founder is yet to comment on the recent allegations. According to U.S. authorities, the 75-year old developer is still in Spain. In October last year, he was arrested there under the instigation of U.S. law enforcement officers. McAfee has already been charged with unfair cryptocurrency advertising and tax evasion.
The accused, including McAfee’s adviser and bodyguard, are to be tried on charges of swindling amounts totaling $13 million. McAfee and his bodyguard have been charged on 7 counts. Both face a prison sentence of 5 to 20 years.
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said, “finding new ways to perform old tricks does not lead to different results in illegal activity”.
Those involved in investment fraud and money laundering schemes will be severely penalized.