Is John McAfee Pumping Cryptocurrencies for Cash?

McAfee stands accused at the Court of Reddit of shilling cryptocurrencies for money. The jury is out.

Is John McAfee promoting cryptocurrencies for cash? One reddit user who began a thread entitled “John McAfee will pump your shitcoin for a fee of 25 bitcoins and 15% of your coins- Exposed” seems to think so.

Let’s investigate

Last Thursday, McAfee announced through his Twitter page that he will be discussing a new coin every day.

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Note the first response to this message: “Let the pump and dump games begin.” Prophetic?

The charge

A Twitter user has posted a screenshot of a conversation between himself and a user purporting to be McAfee. The user asks McAfee if he would like to look at a blockchain project called Enigma. McAfee replies that for a fee of 25 Bitcoins and “15% of the coins”, he will promote it.

Background to the case

John McAfee is currently the CEO of MGT Capital Investments, and could be called eccentric:

He is a British-American computer programmer and businessman, best known for the McAfee antivirus programme. He resigned from McAfee Associates in 1994, and it was bought by Intel in 2011, but his revenues from that company and other myriad interests led him to amass a personal fortune which peaked at $100 million in 2007.

The above Twitter post could be seen as a deliberately worded invitation. He tells you that he has read “every” white paper, and has an opinion on which coins are worthless and which are worth supporting.

McAfee has influence, something that is evident when we look at a relatively unknown coin called Verge. Verge (XVG) was worth $0.000019 at the beginning of 2017, but by the 20th December it had hit $0.1637. Its market cap grew from $246,300 to $2.41 billion.

McAfee endorsed Verge:

Don’t get me wrong – it would not be fair to say that McAfee’s endorsement is the only reason for the success of this particular coin. Verge places a lot of emphasis on anonymity, routing orders through Tor. This is particularly attractive now that the anonymity which was a major attraction of cryptocurrency in the first place seems to be slipping away. However, a major price spike coincides with the Twitter post:

Source: Coinbase

Opportunity

Take a look at the following three charts:

 

 

All three of those spikes coincide with a McAfee Twitter endorsement. So a good word from McAfee clearly has clout, and he did have the opportunity to profit from pumping coins.

Motive

The public frenzy to buy into cryptocurrencies means that this could have been be a good little money-spinner for McAfee.

However, his aforementioned fortune is an argument against him feeling the necessity to make money in this way (although 25 bitcoins is well over $300,000 at today’s prices).

The Defence

Now, McAfee claims that the aforementioned offer to promote for payment is from a fake account. While the account name appears to be the same, he says that the fake account has substituted the lowercase L in the username with a capital i. It does seem to work –  @officialmcaffee/@officiaImcafee. It is difficult to tell the difference, and could be undetectable given the right font.

Also, it seems to me that if his business model was to use his name to promote a product, it would be counter-productive to make public the fact that he can be bought. Not something that one would expect from a successful businessman.

More evidence against irresponsibility on his part:

The jury is out….what do you think?

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