ANTI-VIRUS pioneer John McAfee made millions from cyber-security software – but was charged in March 2021 over a $13million cryptocurrency “scam” after allegedly luring victims on Twitter.
Three months after the tech entrepreneur was charged, he committed suicide in his prison cell.
John McAfee created antivirus software and made millions after his early success
Who is John McAfee?
John McAfee was born in 1945 on a US Army base in Britain but was raised in Virginia.
After working as a programmer and software designer for several companies, including NASA, he started developing software to combat viruses.
In 1987, he founded McAfee Associates, a computer antivirus company, and eventually bought McAfee and changed the name of the branding.
The New York Times reported in August 2009 that his personal fortune had fallen to $400million from $100million.
At the DEF CON conference in Los Angeles, California in August 2014, he warned Americans not to use smartphones – suggesting apps are used to spy on clueless customers who do not read privacy agreements.
He announced he would seek the office of President of the United States in the 2016 presidential campaign as a candidate of the Libertarian Party but he lost the nomination to Gary Johnson.
In May 2016 he was appointed chief executive chairman and CEO of MGT Capital Investments, later announcing it would be renamed John McAfee Global Technologies.
He then claimed he and his team had exploited a flaw in the Android operating system that allowed him to read encrypted messages from Whatsapp.
Why did he move to Belize?
John McAfee moved to Belize in 2008, saying he was retiring there, relocating to the North Island of San Pedro, where roads were impassable and the main mode of transport was the ferry service.
Although it was meant to be an escape from business, he ended up starting a new one within a few months of moving there.
He alleges in 2011 he caught wind of a government plot to kill him.
McAfee claimed he recorded options the government was considering to get rid of him, including a sniper attack and planting explosives in his car.
In response to this, he increased his security and carried on verbally attacking the government.
In May of that year, he said his jungle compound was stormed by 42 paramilitary soldiers, who shot his dog, destroyed property, and arrested him on charges that were later dropped.
Then in 2012, his neighbor was murdered and McAfee became the primary subject but said he believed he was the intended target.
“I thought maybe they were coming for me. They mistook him for me. They got the wrong house,” McAfee told Wired. “He’s dead. They killed him. It spooked me out.”
He told outlets he was afraid he would be killed if he was taken into custody for questioning and promptly went into hiding.
The man, Gregory Faull was a 52-year-old American living next door to McAfee in Belize when he was found face up in a pool of blood with a gunshot to the back of his head.
He went underground, which sparked a dramatic manhunt, but when he spoke to a reporter at Wired, he said:
“Under no circumstances am I going to willingly talk to the police in this country,” he told me this afternoon. “You can say I’m paranoid about it but they will kill me, there is no question.
“They’ve been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me. I am not well-liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody’s side.”
McAfee denied any involvement in Faull’s death, saying he knew nothing about it other than hearing the shot fired, telling BBC: “The entire five years I was there, I’d said maybe 15 words to him.”
He was arrested in Guatemala in 2012 and extradited to the US where a Florida court ordered him to pay $25million to Faull’s family.
In August 2009, the New York Times reported that his personal fortune had fallen to $4million from $100millionCredit: Reuters
Was McAfee charged?
McAfee and his bodyguard Jimmy Gale Watson Jr were charged in March 2021, for a scheme to exploit McAfee’s large Twitter following by publicly touting cryptocurrency offerings and digital tokens that they later sold once prices rose on the promotions, according to the US Department of Justice and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said that McAfee, Watson, and other members of the “cryptocurrency team” allegedly gained more than $13million from investors “they victimized with their fraudulent schemes.”
McAfee was also detained in Spain in 2019 while trying to board a plane to Turkey with a British passport. The arrest was on separate criminal charges filed by the Justice Department’s tax division.
He was accused of owing over $4.2million in taxes after not filing tax returns between 2014 and 2018.
The US Department of Justice also accused him of concealing assets such as his yacht and real-estate properties and evading taxes by putting his bank accounts and crypto-currency policies in other people’s names.
He was placed in a prison in Spain and was told her would be extradited to the US to face charges, and he said he believed he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he went to the US.
How did McAfee die?
Only hours after McAfee was told he would be extradited to the US, he was found dead in his cell at a prison in Barcelona, Spain.
The day before McAfee’s death, his wife Janice, posted on Twitter: “Now the U.S. authorities are determined to have John die in prison to make an example of him for speaking out against the corruption within their government agencies…
“There is no hope of him ever having a fair trial in America.”
McAfee’s lawyer, Nishay Sanan said he had committed suicide and was found to have hanged himself while awaiting extradition to the US.
Prison medical examiners reportedly tried to revive McAfee to no avail.
Nisan told CNBC: “Confirmation has come from our legal team in Spain that John was found dead in his jail cell,” adding: “I am saddened to hear of the events and my prayers go out to his wife Janice.”
Sanan continued: “John was and will always be remembered as a fighter. He tried to love this country but the U.S. Government made his existence impossible. They tried to erase him but they failed.”
What is the new John McAfee Netflix documentary?
Netflix released the trailer for a new documentary titled Running With The Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee.
The documentary will focus on McAfee’s life on the run, his alleged involvement in his neighbor’s murder in Beliz, and his evasion of authorities.
Running With The Devil will be released on August 24, 2022, and co-founder Dov Freedman told Deadline the film has been “ten years in the making.
He added that it is a “stranger-than-fiction story like no other, about a powerful man who lived his real life like it was a high-octane Hollywood movie.”
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