U.S. authorities have charged the founder of the McAfee antivirus software company and his former employee for allegedly engaging in pump-and-dump schemes involving a variety of crypto assets.
Regulators and the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York announced charges on Friday against John McAfee and Jimmy Gale Watson Jr. in connection with a scheme that allegedly involved taking positions in various crypto assets — including dogecoin, reddcoin and verge — and hyping them on social media before selling into rising prices.
None of the allegations has been proven.
Both men are facing charges of conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, along with a civil enforcement action brought by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Last year, McAfee and Watson were also charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly violating securities laws by touting initial coin offerings on social media.
“The defendants allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to publish messages to hundreds of thousands of his Twitter followers touting various cryptocurrencies through false and misleading statements to conceal their true, self-interested motives,” said Manhattan U.S. attorney Audrey Strauss in a statement.
Watson was arrested in Texas and was scheduled to appear before a judge on Friday.
McAfee is currently detained in Spain on separate criminal charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s tax division.