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SEC Files Criminal Charges Against John McAfee for Shilling 7 ICOs

The controversial crypto celebrity has been sued for endorsing projects for pay.

Key Takeaways

  • The SEC has sued John McAfee, stating that the celebrity earned money by promoting crypto ICOs dishonestly.
  • McAfee allegedly earned more than $23 million by doing so.
  • The regulator aims to reduce McAfee's role in the crypto industry and collect various fines and penalties.

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed charges against John McAfee, alleging that the crypto celebrity profited by promoting certain ICO sales on Twitter.

McAfee Promoted 7 ICOs

The SEC alleges that McAfee “leveraged his fame” to earn $23 million by recommending at least seven ICOs. It adds that his activity involved the sale of securities and that his recommendations were false and misleading for several reasons.

McAfee allegedly did not reveal that he was being paid to promote those ICOs. Furthermore, he falsely claimed to be an investor or claimed to be involved in the project, and did not disclose when he was selling his own holdings. According to the regulator, McAfee also engaged in “scalping” by stating he held large amounts of cryptocurrency without disclosing his intent to sell it.

The SEC aims to drastically limit McAfee’s involvement in crypto in the future.

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The authority also aims to force him to return funds, pay civil penalties, and bar him from serving as a company officer or director.

An Ongoing Controversy

These charges against McAfee have been expected for some time. The SEC acknowledges that the public has accused McAfee of dishonest ICO promotion as early as 2018. Though he denied various accusations, he also announced his intent to stop recommending ICOs at the time, citing threats from the SEC.

The SEC cites McAfee’s outlandish Bitcoin price predictions—and his promise to “eat [his] d**k on national television” if those predictions did not come true—as an action that increased his recognition within the crypto community. That fame supposedly encouraged ICO teams to seek out McAfee as a promoter and a project advisor.

He has additionally been charged with tax evasion related to the scheme, as he allegedly directed his income into bank accounts and crypto exchange accounts in the name of nominees.

It is not yet clear whether the charges against McAfee will succeed, but it could spell the end of his crypto career if they do.

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