John McAfee, the creator of the eponymous antivirus software, was found dead in prison outside Barcelona on Wednesday. He was 75 years old.
In recent years, McAfee has grown into a major player in cryptocurrencies, unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States, had numerous run-ins with the law, and traded extreme conspiracy theories.
McAfee was found dead in his jail cell hours after Spain’s National Court approved his extradition to the United States on multiple tax evasion charges. Security personnel at Brians 2 prison in northeastern Spain attempted to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful, The Associated Press reported, citing a statement from the region’s government.
McAfee had been detained in Spain since October on a June 2020 US indictment in which he was accused of failing to file four years of tax returns while concealing assets. Then, in March, he was indicted and charged with fraud and money laundering for his use of social media to promote cryptocurrencies, which prosecutors say generated $ 13 million in illicit earnings for McAfee and a co-conspirator.
McAfee’s lawyer Nishay Sanan said his Spanish colleagues confirmed that McAfee was found dead in his prison cell. Sanan claimed the US government identified McAfee as a target and “tried to erase it, but failed.”
âJohn lived his life the way he wanted to,â Sanan said. âIn the end, that’s all that matters. You don’t have to agree with his way of doing things, he didn’t care.
The Justice Ministry declined to comment and a spokesperson asked Spanish authorities questions.
Before his legal turmoil, McAfee was a pioneer in the cybersecurity industry. He founded McAfee Corp. in 1987 in Santa Clara, California, and led the company as it dominated the personal computer virus protection market. Half of all Fortune 100 companies were using its software during this time. McAfee resigned in 1994. Decades later, he told the South China Morning Post that running the business was no longer fun because it has grown into a huge company with thousands of employees.
Intel Corp. bought the company in 2010 and then renamed all McAfee products to Intel Security. After his name was withdrawn, McAfee told the BBC: “I am now eternally grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet.”
McAfee moved to Belize in 2008 after his $ 100 million fortune was reduced to $ 4 million following a series of failed investments in real estate, real estate and bonds. There he had one of his biggest conflicts with the authorities in 2012 after the murder of a neighbor, Gregory Faull, a 52-year-old entrepreneur from Florida. McAfee’s home on Ambergris Caye Island was raided after Faull was shot and police said they wanted to question him as part of a murder investigation.
He then applied for asylum in Guatemala in 2012, claiming he had not fled authorities in Belize. He took to social media and public interviews to save his reputation, sending updates to Wired magazine, allowing two reporters from Vice magazine to go with him and posting missives on his own website. . He spoke of escaping the police by burying himself in the sand with a cardboard box and changing his appearance.
McAfee was deported from Guatemala and arrived in Miami in December 2012. In an interview with Bloomberg News on the day he left, McAfee, then 67, said he was forced to leave Belize, but that he was “perfectly satisfied with the decision”. He apologized to the then Guatemalan president for putting him in “a slippery position”. He was later ordered by a Florida judge to pay more than $ 25 million to Faull’s estate.
In 2016, McAfee announced a run for president of the Libertarian Party, campaigning on a privacy-focused platform that included pushing the government to create a cybersecurity defense strategy. The party’s nomination was won by former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.
In 2017, McAfee jumped on the Bitcoin bandwagon as CEO of MGT Capital Investments Inc. He promised to turn the old video game operation into a profitable cybersecurity business by ramping up its Bitcoin mining business. He resigned later that year to become CEO of a cryptocurrency firm, Luxcore.
Part of his cryptocurrency business included billing over $ 105,000 per tweet to promote the initial coin offerings. McAfee later told his Twitter followers that he was forced to âgo blackâ on social media after receiving unspecified âthreatsâ from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
During the period 2014 to 2018, McAfee did not file U.S. income tax returns, according to a federal indictment. After escaping law enforcement, he was arrested and detained last October in Spain. From prison, McAfee was able to use Twitter to continue promoting cryptocurrencies, but also to share his experience. In April, he tweeted: âThis has been the most trying time of my life. At that time he had been in Catalan prison for six months.
In November 2019, McAfee took to Twitter to show off his latest tattoo on his right bicep. He read, ‘$ WHACKD.’ In a related tweet, he wrote: âReceiving subtle messages from US officials saying, in effect, ‘We’re coming for you McAfee! We’re going to kill ourselves. I got a tattoo today just in case. If I kill myself, I didn’t. I was screwed. Check my right arm.
Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported that McAfee appeared to have committed suicide, citing a statement from the regional Ministry of Justice of Catalonia, where he was being held.
âSometimes genius and madness aren’t far away and it seems like he’s unfortunately fallen prey to his demons,â said Doug Clinton, Managing Partner of Loup Ventures.
(With help from Chris Strohm, Olga Kharif, and Jamie Tarabay.)