John McAfee’s bodyguard pleads not guilty to role in crypto scams worth $13m

Regulation

A former navy seal and bodyguard to the banged-up abroad McAfee antivirus software founder, John McAfee, has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he was involved in two wholesale crypto scams that duped investors out of roughly $13 million.

Jimmy Gale Watson Jr, the former executive advisor of the “McAfee Team” — a website offering crypto tips endorsed by John McAfee, was arrested in Texas on March 4. Watson faces charges of allegedly defrauding investors through cryptocurrency scams, money laundering, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud.

In a March 5 indictment, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss asserted:

“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.”

John McAfee is currently in prison in Spain, where he was arrested for tax evasion in October 2020. The U.S. government is currently seeking McAfee’s extradition so he can face a litany of charges including failing to submit tax returns for 2014 to 2018 while earning millions from “promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.”

Watson is accused of being involved in a series of altcoin “pump and dump” schemes during 2017 and early 2018. The indictment claims The McAfee Team purchased large sums of altcoins at low price points before endorsing them publicly to McAfee’s hundreds of thousands of Twitter with misleading information. Once retail investors had pushed prices up in response to McAfee’s tweets, the group would then secretively dump the coins.

McAfee recently bragged on Twitter that Dogecoin was one of the altcoins he had publicly endorsed.

The pair are also accused of publicly touting initial coin offerings via McAfee’s Twitter account while “concealing that the ICO issuers were compensating McAfee and his team for his promotional tweets with a substantial portion of the funds raised from ICO investors.”

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