Nishay K. Sanan, McAfee’s attorney, confirmed his death but said he did not know the cause.
McAfee, 75, was arrested in October when he was about to board a flight to Turkey at Barcelona-El Prat Airport. He had been charged in the United States with evading taxes related to millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency. A Spanish court ruled Wednesday that he could be extradited to the United States.
U.S. authorities accused McAfee of not filing tax returns from 2014 to 2018 after he earned millions of dollars in income from several sources including “speaking engagements, for the rights to his life story for a documentary, for work as a consultant, and for promoting cryptocurrencies,” according to a federal indictment filed last year.
McAfee also faced U.S. charges of conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities and touting fraud, wire fraud and money laundering related “to the fraudulent promotion to investors of cryptocurrencies qualifying under federal law as commodities or securities,” the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a March news release.
McAfee and his accomplices allegedly secured more than $13 million from investors they defrauded, the statement said.
According to the FBI, McAfee and one of his associates, Jimmy Gale Watson Jr., used social media to perpetrate a “pump-and-dump” scheme in which they promoted the sale of digital currencies without disclosing to investors that they were being compensated to tout them, the statement added.
A U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the charges against McAfee on Wednesday.
McAfee founded his anti-virus software company in 1987, having previously worked as a computer programmer and government contractor. An early pioneer in the industry, the company grew rapidly to encompass more than half of the anti-virus software market. McAfee resigned from the company in 1994, selling his remaining shares and embarking on several other business ventures.
McAfee lived a lavish public lifestyle, funded instant-messaging and firewall software ventures, and invested in real estate. Profiled by CNBC in 2009 while living in Belize, McAfee said the global financial crisis had wiped out much of his wealth.
In 2012, McAfee was named as a suspect in the killing of an American expatriate businessman named Gregory Faull. McAfee denied the allegations and later fled Belize, illegally crossing into neighboring Guatemala before being deported back to the United States.
A final post on McAfee’s verified Instagram account, made shortly after reports of his death began to surface, was a “Q.” Many users connected the message to QAnon, a sprawling set of falsities that have coalesced into an extremist ideology that has radicalized its followers. It has incited violence and criminal acts, and the FBI has designated it a domestic terrorism threat. The post was the first use of the account in several months, having made no past reference to the QAnon ideology that took hold during the Trump administration.
It was not the first time McAfee had referenced his own death. In October, 2020, McAfee tweeted, “Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine,” referring to billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died of an apparent hanging in a New York jail after being charged with sexually abusing girls.
McAfee made a similar reference a year earlier, showing a picture of himself with a tattoo reading “$wackd” and the message “If I suicide myself, I didn’t.”
The company that still uses his name responded to news of his death Wednesday, saying: “Although John McAfee founded the company, he has not been associated with our company in any capacity for over 25 years. That said, our thoughts go to his family and those close to him.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Devlin Barrett and Harrison Smith contributed to this report.