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Crypto celebrity McAfee stops touting ICOs, citing US`SEC threats’

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John McAfee, founder of the eponymous anti-virus company, speaks to journalists at the China Internet Security Conference in Beijing on August 16, 2016. / AFP

One of the world’s most prominent promoters of initial coin offerings is calling it quits.

John McAfee, the anti-virus software pioneer turned cryptocurrency evangelist, said in a tweet on Tuesday that he will stop recommending ICOs because of unspecified “threats” from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Due to SEC threats, I am no longer working with ICOs nor am I recommending them, and those doing ICOs can all look forward to arrest,” McAfee wrote from his verified Twitter account, which has more than 820,000 followers. “It is unjust but it is reality. I am writing an article on an equivalent alternative to ICOs which the SEC cannot touch. Please have Patience.”

McAfee, whose checkered past includes run-ins with police in Belize and a failed campaign to become the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, has been a regular on the cryptocurrency conference circuit and one of the industry’s most prolific boosters. He’s part of a vast network of social media influencers that have helped blockchain-related ventures raise billions of dollars from ICOs amid the global frenzy for virtual currencies.

The offerings have come under increased scrutiny from regulators in recent months, with the SEC calling them securities that should be registered with the regulator. Some analysts have said paid promoters of ICOs may be breaking the law by acting as unregistered broker-dealers. In March, McAfee tweeted a web link that showed he charged $105,000 per tweet to promote ICOs and other products.

The SEC and McAfee didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. — Bloomberg