How John McAfee Went From $100 Million Anti-Virus Tycoon To Fugitive Murder Suspect To Alleged Crypto Pump And Dumper

There is a very good possibility that you are using McAfee antivirus software if you are viewing this page on a desktop computer. The biggest antivirus business in the world was founded by McAfee in 1987. John McAfee is the eccentric creator and namesake of the business.

We originally posted this article in March 2021 after McAfee after news broke that the United States Department of Justice came out with charges that the former software tycoon perpetuated a crypto currency pump and dump scam that resulted in several million worth of ill-gotten profits. McAfee was detained in Spain at the time of the announcement. Spain was being asked by the Department of Justice to extradite McAfee to the US. The Spanish government declared earlier today, June 23, 2021, that it had approved that extradition request. Tragically, John McAfee was discovered dead a few hours later; it appeared that he had killed himself.

Why is it said that the founder of the biggest anti-virus company in the world ran a relatively small pump and dump scheme? After all, Intel did pay $7.7 billion to acquire his business in August 2010. I guess John must have been a very wealthy man. He must have been a multi-billionaire who rubbed elbows with fellow Silicon Valley tycoons like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellison, right?

Nope. John did formerly had a big fortune. In the hundred millions, not the billions. Unfortunately, leading a luxury lifestyle caused his wealth to become so drained that by 2010, when he was charged with murder, he was living a simple life in the tiny nation of Belize. What specifically went wrong in John McAfee’s life, and how? Let’s dive in…

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Images provided by Joe Raedle/Getty

Antivirus Software Tycoon

In 1987, John McAfee established his own software business. McAfee used what would later prove to be a brilliant strategy for gaining market share and establishing industry dominance. In contrast to his contemporaries, who sold software for $50 to $100, McAfee provided its product without charge. Technical assistance and updates were then charged for by the corporation. This tactic destroyed the opposition and fundamentally altered the software sector as a whole.

McAfee had become the biggest antivirus company in the world by the early 1990s.

Unfortunately, despite his soaring success, by 1994 John had grown bored of the company he founded. He abruptly resigned as CEO and sold all of his shares for $100 million, shocking the business community.

While $100 million is certainly an impressive windfall, McAfee’s business continued to grow at an explosive pace, even after the dotcom bubble burst in the early 2000s. John McAfee would have become a multibillionaire over night if he had kept his shares until the $7.7 billion acquisition of Intel in 2010.

Extravagant Lifestyle

McAfee went on a buying binge after quitting his job. He bought a 157-acre ranch in New Mexico with a 35-seat movie theater, a five-acre seaside estate in Hawaii, a 10-person Cessna private plane, artwork, and dozens of high-end vehicles. In addition, he invested $25 million in the construction of a 10,000 square foot, 280 acre estate in Colorado that would serve as his main residence.

McAfee also invested millions of dollars in bonds from Lehman Brothers in an effort to diversify his investment portfolio away from real estate. His investment went worthless after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in October 2008, and McAfee discovered he was running low on funds. At what might have been the worst time in history, he was compelled to sell as many assets as possible. Only $5.7 million was collected for his $25 million Colorado estate. For $1.5 million, the Hawaiian mansion was put up for sale. After everything was said and done, John McAfee, who formerly had a net worth of over $100 million and missed the opportunity to have a fortune in the billions, had just $4 million.

Of course, $4 million is still a lot of money, but it would be harder to accept if you were formerly worth over $100 million and had the potential to be worth several billion.

Trouble in Belize

In 2009, McAfee relocated to Belize where $4 million would go a lot further. He bought a lakeside home estate and started dating a 17-year-old local (the age of consent in Belize is 16).

In November 2012, authorities in Belize announced that John McAfee was the prime suspect in the murder of a fellow expat named Gregory Faull. One of McAfee’s neighbors was Faull.

John first took refuge in Guatemala. Following a Vice interview, his location was revealed. The location information for the image was left in the metadata by the Vice photographer. He was arrested by Guatemalan police for several weeks before being deported to the United States.

Other Troubles

Prior to January 2019, when he was once more on the run from US authorities after realizing he was set to be accused of tax evasion, John had lived in the US relatively unmolested.

John was taken into custody in Spain on October 5, 2020. As requested by the US Department of Justice, Spanish authorities investigated John’s alleged failure to pay taxes on millions of dollars in purported income from 2014 to 2018. According to reports, he didn’t submit a tax return for any of those years.

On March 5, 2021 the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York formally indicted John and a partner for allegedly promoting cryptocurrencies over Twitter without disclosing that they were secretly investors. Following the publication of the Tweets on McAfee’s account, which has hundreds of thousands of followers, the value of the currencies increased quickly. As the value of the currencies increased, McAfee and the partner reportedly liquidated their interests for a profit. A rather standard “pump and dump” approach, if genuine.

The morning of June 23, 2021, Spanish officials indicated their decision to accede to the extradition request, as we mentioned before in this post. A few hours later, John was discovered dead of what appeared to be suicide. He was 75.

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