Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging JOHN DAVID MCAFEE, the founder of the McAfee antivirus software company, and JIMMY GALE WATSON JR., who served as an executive adviser of MCAFEE’s so-called cryptocurrency team (the “McAfee Team”), with conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities and touting fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and substantive wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy offenses stemming from two schemes relating to the fraudulent promotion to investors of cryptocurrencies qualifying under federal law as commodities or securities. WATSON, who was arrested last night in Texas, will be presented later today before a federal magistrate judge in the Northern District of Texas. MCAFEE is currently detained in Spain on separate criminal charges filed by the United States Department of Justice’s Tax Division.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged, McAfee and Watson exploited a widely used social media platform and enthusiasm among investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market to make millions through lies and deception. 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. 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. Investors should be wary of social media endorsements of investment opportunities.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “As alleged, McAfee and Watson used social media to perpetrate an age-old pump-and-dump scheme that earned them nearly two million dollars. Additionally, they allegedly used the same