Pioneer to Prisoner
John McAfee, the antivirus pioneer-turned cryptocurrency enthusiast, alleged murderer, and alleged tax evader, was found dead in a prison cell in Spain according to authorities.
This come days after extradition to U.S was approved for charges he faced decades in prison if convicted of.
His wife Janice said back in 2020 “Spain has been illegally holding since Wednesday.
He has lost over 25lbs since he’s been in prison. It’s not a place for a 75yr old, they’re jeopardizing his health.
Our team of lawyers are working on getting him released immediately.”
News reports say he was found dead and the authorities suspect he died by suicide.
The Mossos d’Esquadra, the local police in the Spanish region of Catalonia, where McAfee was held, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The US Department of Justice also did not respond.
McAfee, 75, made a fortune in the late 1980s and early 1990s after he founded McAfee Associates, one of the first companies to make a computer antivirus.
His involvement in the cybersecurity world practically stopped in 1994, when he resigned from the company.
Since leaving the company his life has been mired in one controversy after another.
McAfee dipped his toes in several ventures, such as yoga, herbal antibiotics, and more recently cryptocurrency.
The US Attorney for Manhattan, Audrey Strauss said:
“As alleged, McAfee and Watson exploited a widely used social media platform and excitement among investors in the emerging cryptocurrency market.
To earn millions through lies and deceit.
Broadly speaking, both subjects bought large amounts of altcoins, all for a low price.
After that, McAfee used his Twitter account and social media presence to just promote the currencies he had purchased.
So when the price of what he bought went up, he resold it, earning millions of dollars with that mechanism.
In 2012, when he was living in Belize, McAfee was accused of murder after one of his neighbours who was found dead.
In a A 2016 documentary by director Nanette Burstein laid out the case against McAfee, who was able to escape from Belize and avoid any repercussions.
More recently, McAfee became a minor celebrity in the world of cryptocurrency for pumping and dumping different digital coins, activities which earned him and his team an indictment for fraud this year by a Manhattan federal court.
In one of his last tweets, McAfee complained about life in prison.
“There is much sorrow in prison, disguised as hostility.
The sorrow is plainly visible even in the most angry faces,” he wrote. “I’m old and content with food and a bed but for the young prison is a horror – a reflection of the minds of those who conceived them.”
Money making schemes
In a surprise appearance at the Def Con hacker conference McAfee also argued that big tech companies such as Google were spying on people as nobody could be bothered to read their terms and conditions.
He has now spoken about the “eroded nature of privacy in our lives today” blaming big tech companies and consumer laziness as the primary causes of the problem.
“We have done this because we are lazy, we want ease of living.
We want comfort in our life.
We’d rather be safe, secure and comfortable, than actually live and get out there and suffer, and see what life is all about,” he said.
The antivirus company he founded was sold to Intel in 2010 for $7.7bn, but McAfee himself hasn’t had any involvement in it since 1994.
As well as his headline-grabbing antics in Belize, McAfee has also recently claimed to be half deaf after being attacked by his 17 year old ex-lover and to have dodged assassination by a drug cartel.
Profit off anger
McAfee also used his speech at Def Con to promote a new website that lets people complain.
Brownlist, which carries the slogan “it’s payback time” serves as a forum for people to vent their anger at everyday life and for other users to suggest a solution.
McAfee told the audience that he planned to make money from the site through a subscription service and was looking for further investment for the project.
“The website taps into anger in a positive way. Instead of getting angry and shooting at somebody on the highway, or yelling at your wife, you can log onto the site,” he claimed.
John and the press
In a interview he spoke on the effects of the financial crisis, McAfee, who wears his intelligence and savvy on his sleeve, has been ruined as well.
He sold all his properties in the United States at a heavy loss, he says, to cover his debts.
he said at the time “his financial losses don’t bother him at all.”
He’s excited to be starting anew in Belize, where he’s working with the world’s foremost researcher with knowledge of a new kind of herbal antibiotic in a hot new field of antibiotic-like compounds.
Together they’re going to produce medicine from indigenous plants, thereby helping to cure the world’s sick and bring prosperity to impoverished Belize. “I’m having a blast,”
A Florida court ordered McAfee in 2019 to pay $25 million to Faull’s estate in a wrongful death claim in relation to a sand surfing business he had created.
In July of that year he was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five others were suspected of traveling on a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style gear.
McAfee told Wired Magazine in 2012 that his father, a heavy drinker and “very unhappy man,” shot himself when McAfee was 15. “Every day I wake up with him,” he told Wired.
He lived for a time in Lexington, Tennessee, a rural town of about 7,800 some 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Memphis.
In a 2015 interview with WBBJ-TV, McAfee said he only felt comfortable when armed. The TV station reported that he chose to be interviewed with a loaded gun in each hand.
“Very little gives me a feeling of being safe and more secure other than being armed in my bedroom with the door locked,” McAfee told the station.
In one of his last known media interviews, with British newspaper The Independent last November, McAfee said his prison experience in Spain was a “fascinating adventure” and he planned never to return to the U.S.
“I am constantly amused and sometimes moved,” he was quoted as saying. “The graffiti alone could fill a thousand-page thriller.”
He also told The Independent that prisoners and guards had recognized him and some asked for his autograph.
He said on twitter in June 2021
“The US believes I have hidden crypto.
I wish I did but it has dissolved through the many hands of Team McAfee (your belief is not required), and my remaining assets are all seized.
My friends evaporated through fear of association.
I have nothing.
Yet, I regret nothing.
He has written memoirs and he has released some online here is a extract and link to more.
“By the early 1970’s I had established a pattern of working for a year or so, saving my money, then resigning my jobs and traveling the world for as long as my money would last. With frugality I was usually able to stretch my adventures to a year and a half or more”.
In 1974 I resigned my job as I.T. director for the Great American Insurance Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, having worked there for 14 months and saved almost $25,000. That was no small amount in 1974.
I decided to start my adventure in Kathmandu, which I had visited before in 1972.
I loved Nepal as it existed prior to the civil war that began around 1998. My last visit was in 2005.
Staying in a remote country teahouse, I was kept awake all night by the sound of machine guns firing in the near distance.
It was a sad and disillusioning experience.
But in 1974 Nepal, and especially Kathmandu, was magical – a land full of mystery, adventure and breathtaking beauty.
The only laws that seemed to exist were politeness and non-interference.
A world where anything goes, provided you could convince someone to go there with you.
Most of Johns problems stemmed from taxes.
He also is quoted as saying
“Many in our party believe income taxes are unconstitutional.
I speak out loudly against it.
There are other means of funding, I have not committed fraud.
I have refused to file which is a mis-demeanor.
This extradition is political.”
McAfee was arrested in Spain in October after being indicted in the United States for tax evasion months earlier.
He allegedly failed to file taxes for four years despite earning millions in income
They claim between 2014 and 2018 from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary, according to court documents.
The amount he owned was not specified in the indictment.
In a bizarre way he was still promoting his business while explaining his death threats from government agencies.
It will be interesting to see if his currency take off after his death surrounded with mystery and questions will make for a good conspiracy for year to come.
In a 2012 interview with wired magazine he went in-depth into his childhood and relationship with his father and his fathers death.
1993 was a pivotal year for McAfee.
He was 38 and director of engineering at Omex, a company that built information storage systems in Santa Clara, California.
He was also selling cocaine to his subordinates and snorting massive amounts himself.
When he got too high to focus, he’d take a quaalude.
If he started to fall asleep at his desk, he’d snort some more coke to wake up.
McAfee had trouble making it through the day and spent his afternoons drinking scotch to even out the tumult in his head.
He’d been a mess for a long time.
He grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, where his father was a road surveyor and his mother a bank teller.
His father, McAfee recalls, was a heavy drinker and “a very unhappy man” who McAfee says beat him and his mother severely.
When McAfee was 15, his father shot himself.
“Every day I wake up with him,” McAfee says. “Every relationship I have, he’s by my side; every mistrust, he is the negotiator of that mistrust. So my life is fucked.”
In 1983 he was snorting lines of coke off his desk most mornings, polishing off a bottle of scotch every day, and living in constant fear that he would run out of drugs.
His wife had left him, he’d given away his dog, and in the wake of what he calls a mutual agreement, he left Omex.
He ended up shuttered in his house, with no friends, doing drugs alone for days on end and wondering whether he should kill himself just as his father had.
“My life was total hell,” he says.
Finally he went to a therapist, who suggested he go to Alcoholics Anonymous.
He attended a meeting and started sobbing.
Someone gave him a hug and told him he wasn’t alone.
“That’s when life really began for me,” he says.
He says he’s been sober ever since.