CYBER-SECURITY pioneer John McAfee faced charges of tax evasion and concealing assets when he was arrested in Spain in 2020.
He was placed in prison in Spain, but in 2021, only hours after he was told he would be extradited to the US, he was found dead in his cell.
Why was John McAfee on the run?
The security software pioneer tried to live life as a hedonistic outsider while running from a host of legal troubles.
He had been arrested and charged with evading taxes after failing to report income from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consulting work.
McAfee was living in Belize in 2012 when he was sought for questioning in connection with the murder of his neighbor.
Faull, a wealthy American, was found dead in his home in November 2012, with a single gunshot to the head and bearing signs of having been tortured with a taser.
He was reported to have been in an earlier dispute with McAfee about the noise made by McAfee’s dogs, and told another neighbor he was going to “take matters into his own hands.”
Four of McAfee’s dogs were subsequently poisoned.
McAfee then fled to Guatemala after being questioned by police and was later deported back to the United States.
He claimed he had been forced to flee because Belize authorities were trying to kill him.
“I thought maybe they were coming for me. They mistook him for me. They got the wrong house,” McAfee told Wired. “He’s dead. They killed him. It spooked me out.”
“Under no circumstances am I going to willingly talk to the police in this country,” he said. “You can say I’m paranoid about it but they will kill me, there is no question.
“They’ve been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me. I am not well-liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody’s side.”
The Belize police denied his claims, saying they were simply investigating a crime about which McAfee may have had information.
Then-Prime Minister Dean Barrow expressed doubts about McAfee’s mental state, saying: “I don’t want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers.”
A Florida court ordered McAfee in 2019 to pay $25million to Faull’s estate in a wrongful death claim.
However, he refused to pay it, writing on Twitter that he has not responded to “a single one of my 37 lawsuits for the past 11 years.”
McAfee claimed to have no assets, but sold his stake in his famous McAfee anti-virus software company in 1994, reportedly for $100million.
In January 2019, McAfee claimed to be living internationally on a boat.
Later in July that year, he was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five others were suspected of traveling on a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition, and military-style gear.
McAfee tweeted a picture claiming that he and his wife, Janice McAfee, were sitting in a London restaurant.
He then wrote: “On the move again. The long arm of the U.S. is reaching for us here in London.
“Thank God it’s a weekend. Government bureaucracy paperwork is stalled until tomorrow morning.
“We are never stalled. Will update you soon.”
Four hours later, in a tweet he had stamped as having been sent from Paris, he posted pictures of himself and his wife with two other men in a hotel room, and wrote: “The bad guys never came close.
“We are out of England now and on our way to complete safety.”
His location at the time that any of the tweets were published were not independently verified.
When were John McAfee’s arrests?
The millions he made from the sale of his stake in McAfee Associates, a revolutionary computer antivirus company, allowed him to enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle.
It also helped him indulge in his hobby of aerotrekking – flying unlicensed microlight aircraft at low altitudes and breakneck speeds.
Having gained a harem of female followers at a sex yoga ashram he established, according to Vice, McAfee then used fake social media accounts to try to boost the sport’s popularity.
He moved to Belize in 2008, thinking he would “retire and fish, scuba dive, sail and otherwise enjoy my declining years.”
He was 63 at the time but said he only remained retired for a few months.
McAfee lived on the north island of San Pedro, where roads were impassable and the main mode of transport was the ferry service.
Although it was meant to be an escape from business, he ended up starting an antibiotics company within a few months of moving there.
At some point during this time, he began posting on drug message boards about attempts to purify the compounds within bath salts.
But his business venture turned to ruin when local cops raided the property in search of evidence of drug-making.
They found a cache of weapons, £15,000 in cash – roughly $18k – and some legal drug-making equipment.
McAfee was arrested, but authorities were unable to find anything to charge him with.
McAfee later told a Gizmodo journalist of about 12 suspected attempts on his life – a paranoia that possibly fuelled his erratic drug use.
Finally, after a neighbor he argued with was found dead in a pool of his own blood with a gunshot wound to his head, McAfee fled the country.
He went on the run in 2012 from Belize after cops announced he was a “person of interest” after the death of his neighbor Gregory Faull.
He sought asylum in Guatemala City – but authorities deported him back to America.
Then, in 2016 he announced that he was running for president of the US as a Libertarian, but he lost to New Mexico rival Gary Johnson.
In January 2019, McAfee claimed to be living internationally on a boat after an indictment brought against him by US authorities related to unpaid taxes dating back to 2012.
The fugitive antivirus millionaire was constantly trying to avoid the authorities while publishing details of his supposed whereabouts.
The Associated Press interviewed him on July 4, 2019, on his yacht while it was anchored at the Marina Hemingway in Havana, Cuba.
And a few days later, the US Sun reported that he was arrested for taking weapons and ammunition into the Dominican Republic.
He and five others were suspected of traveling on a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition, and military-style gear.
However before the month was out, McAfee was released from detention.
Days later, he bizarrely vowed to run against Donald Trump, while claiming to have sought refuge in London and Paris.
Then, McAfee claimed to have fled to an “ultra-secure” facility in Lithuania to evade the CIA.
At each location he claimed to be hiding in Europe, McAfee tweeted a time-stamped picture – though it’s possible he could have used a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A VPN allows users to change the assigned “address” of a computer, laptop, or mobile device.
His days of being on the run ended in Spain in October 2020, when he was arrested and indicted for tax evasion.
How did John McAfee die?
He had been in jail since then, awaiting the outcome of an extradition proceeding.
His arrest followed charges the same month in Tennessee for evading taxes.
Authorities had alleged that McAfee had failed to report income from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consulting work, made speaking engagements, and sold the rights to his life story for a documentary.
The criminal charges carried a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
Tennessee prosecutors had argued that McAfee owed the US government over $4.2million in taxes before fines or interest for undeclared income in the five fiscal years from 2014 to 2018, according to a Spanish court document.
But in a ruling soon before his death, the National Court judge agreed to extradite him to the US to just face charges stemming from 2016 to 2018.
McAfee’s body was discovered at Brian’s 2 penitentiaries in northeastern Spain.
Nishay Sanan, the Chicago-based attorney defending him on those cases, said by phone that McAfee will always be remembered as a fighter.
Sanan told CNBC: “Confirmation has come from our legal team in Spain that John was found dead in his jail cell,” adding: “I am saddened to hear of the events and my prayers go out to his wife Janice.”
Sanan continued: “John was and will always be remembered as a fighter. He tried to love this country but the U.S. Government made his existence impossible. They tried to erase him but they failed.”
What is the John McAfee Netflix documentary?
The trailer for the new Netflix documentary, Running With The Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee, was released in July 2022.
The documentary focuses on McAfee’s life on the run while evading authorities, and his alleged involvement in his neighbor’s murder in Belize.
Running With The Devil will be released on August 24, 2022, and co-founder Dov Freedman told Deadline the film has been “ten years in the making.
He added that it is a “stranger-than-fiction story like no other, about a powerful man who lived his real life like it was a high-octane Hollywood movie.”