SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Individual in ICO Promotion Scheme; Files Notice of Death as to John McAfee, Resulting in Dismissal of Claims

Litigation Release No. 25445 / July 15, 2022

Securities and Exchange Commission v. John David McAfee and Jimmy Gale Watson, Jr., No. 1:20-cv-08281 (S.D.N.Y. filed October 5, 2020)

On July 14, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a final consent judgment against Jimmy Gale Watson, Jr., for his role in John McAfee's alleged initial coin offering promotion and scalping scheme.

On October 5, 2020, the Commission filed a complaint alleging that McAfee, with Watson's assistance, promoted investments in ICOs to McAfee's Twitter followers without disclosing that they were paid to do so. The complaint alleged that Watson assisted McAfee by negotiating the promotion deals with the ICO issuers and helping McAfee cash out the crypto payments for the promotions, among other things. McAfee and Watson also allegedly engaged in a separate scheme to profit from a crypto asset security by secretly accumulating a large position in McAfee's accounts, touting that security on Twitter while intending to sell it, and then selling McAfee's holdings as the price rose.

The final judgment against Watson permanently enjoins him from violating Sections 17(a) and (b) and of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and orders him to pay disgorgement of $316,401.48 and prejudgment interest of $59,533.38. The final judgment also permanently enjoins him from participating, directly or indirectly, in the issuance, purchase, offer, or sale of any digital asset security, provided, however, that such injunction shall not prevent Watson from purchasing or selling securities for his own personal accounts.

The Commission also filed a Notice of Death as to John McAfee, which resulted in the dismissal of the Commission's claims against McAfee.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by David H. Tutor, Jon A. Daniels, Christopher Ferrante, and Diego Brucculeri. The SEC's litigation was led by Mr. Tutor, Mr. Daniels, and Jorge G. Tenreiro.