John McAfee, a cybersecurity software pioneer and tax opponent who lived for years as a fugitive, died in a jail near Barcelona on Wednesday, hours after a Spanish court approved his extradition to the U.S. on tax charges. He faced decades in prison if found guilty. He was 75.
A cryptocurrency investor and 2020 presidential candidate, McAfee predicted that he would be murdered in prison by U.S. officials. Three days before he was found hanging in a cell in the Brians 2 penitentiary, his wife, Janice McAfee, tweeted in a Father’s Day post that the U.S. wanted the software pioneer to “die in prison.”
McAfee was accused of manipulating cryptocurrency markets, tax evasion and he was investigated but never charged for a murder in Belize.
“I know John is an extremely polarizing individual,” Janice McAfee tweeted. “John’s honesty has often gotten him in trouble with corrupt governments and corrupt government officials because of his outspoken nature and his refusal to be extorted, intimidated or silenced. Now the US authorities are determined to have John die in prison and make an example of him.”
McAfee tweeted that he feared he would meet the same fate as Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted pedophile who died by what authorities said was a suicide in a New York jail in 2019. Many believe Epstein was murdered because he had incriminating evidence on his rich and powerful friends.
While he was in a Barcelona jail, McAfee tweeted on Oct. 15, 2020, “I am content in here. I have friends. The food is good. All is well. Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine.”
McAfee’s company, McAfee VirusScan, released the first commercial anti-virus software and helped give rise to a multibillion-dollar industry. After multiple ownership changes, the company was eventually sold to tech giant Intel in 2010 for more than $7.6 billion.
At the time of his death, McAfee’s net worth had plummeted to $4 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth
McAfee had a history of legal troubles from Tennessee and Central America to the Caribbean. In 2012, he was sought for questioning in connection with the murder of his neighbor in Belize, but was never charged with a crime.
He was hit with a 10-count indictment in the Western District of Tennessee in October for alleged tax evasion on millions of dollars in income from speaking engagements, selling the rights to his personal story for a documentary and consulting work. He is accused of not paying taxes on all of his income from 2014 to 2018, according to the Feds.
Separately, he was charged in Manhattan federal court in March for a pump-and-dump scheme involving cryptocurrencies that he was promoting on social media. He and an accomplice allegedly cheated bitcoin investors out of some $13 million, in part by buying large quantities of “alt-coin,” then inflating the price by publicizing it on Twitter. They made a $2 million profit, prosecutors said.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?
McAfee claimed at an extradition hearing earlier this month that the federal tax evasion charges against him were politically motivated, Reuters reported.
There were no signs of foul play in McAfee’s death, Spanish authorities said, according to the newspaper El Pais. The Spanish newspaper El Mundo also reported that McAfee had died by an apparent suicide in the jail after attemps were made to resusciate him.
For years, McAfee predicted — and tried to control the narrative — that his life would end violently. In a Nov. 30, 2019 tweet, he said, “Getting subtle messages from U.S. officials saying, in effect: ‘We’re coming for you McAfee! We’re going to kill yourself’. I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn’t. I was whackd. Check my right arm. $WHACKD“.
If McAfee’s life was fertile grounds for conspiracy theories, his death made it more so. In 2019, he said he had spoken with bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto and threatened to reveal the person’s true identity before backing off, tweeting that it could hurt his efforts to fight an extradition to the U.S.
He also claimed to have collected files on corruption in government. “For the first time I’m naming names and specifics. I’ll begin with a corrupt CIA agent and two bohemian officials. Coming today… If I’m arrested or disappear, 31+ terabytes of incriminating data it will be released to the press.”
“Etherscan wallet named >EPSTEIN with the tracker ID WHACKD wakes up after being asleep. Starts sending unknown addresses. McAfee may not be bluffing about a deadman’s switch,” Time Traveler Anonymous tweeted @TimeTravelAnon.
McAfee also tweeted, “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.”
Twitter users had predictions of their own, nominating actors they think should play McAfee in the inevitable upcoming movie of his life. “I nominate J.K. Simmons to play him in the movie. Between his looks, voice and acting I think he would be a perfect fit!” Dustin tweeted @Skydive85.
“I nominate Joaquin Phoenix to portray him in the movie you know is gonna come” Not One of the Promised Virgins
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