Friday 11 January 2013

John McAfee: Spy, Super Villain, or Completely Nuts

British-born antivirus godfather John McAfee has returned to the United States after years of exile in Belize where he did some pretty crazy stuff. Or so he claims. With all this chatter about the man, we thought a little overview might be nice.

McAfee: Real life Bond Villain
Who is this John McAfee fellow anyway?

McAfee is one of the pioneers of antivirus software. Back in 1987, he began the software company McAfee Associates and distributed antivirus scanning and removal software under the shareware model. The model, McAfee’s own, was pretty brilliant. The software was available free of charge for individuals and McAfee recouped the costs by charging fees to businesses.

In the early ‘90s, McAfee went on television and claimed that a doomsday virus called “Michelangelo” would wreak havoc on the United States. The announcement instantly boosted software sales. But when it turned out to be a hoax, the resulting scandal forced McAfee to resign two years after the company went public.

So what did he do after leaving his company?


For real.

After effectively being forced out of his own company. McAfee became a yoga instructor in New Mexico. In fairness, the man had a ton of money at this point and could do pretty much whatever he wanted. But really? Yoga?

Why was he in Belize?

In 2009, McAfee told the New York Times that he lost all but $4 million of his $100 million fortune in the market crash in 2008. Of course, he later told tech site Gizmodo that the claim was "not very accurate at all," so who knows what really happened.

Anyway, at this point, he decided to take his remaining money and move to an island in Belize

At this point, you may be thinking this guy is a little crazy. Yup. And it’s about to get so much crazier.

In Belize, McAfee had several projects, many of which involved trying to create drugs from jungle plants. McAfee said his main focus was creating a female version of Viagra. Perhaps appropriate considering he had seven girlfriends who lived on his compound with him.

In addition to hoarding girlfriends, McAfee also had several dogs, a bunch of guns, and piles of drugs. Rumor is he experimented with chemicals in bath salts.

Anyway, last year, McAfee told local law enforcement that he suspected his neighbor of poisoning four of his dogs in response to their constant barking. According to one of his girlfriends, McAfee shot the affected dogs in the head to “put them out of their misery.” But things started looking suspicious when the accused neighbor was found dead in his house two days later, also shot in the head.

When police came to question McAfee, he disappeared.

During his disappearance, McAfee would only speak with reporters and frequently made contradicting claims. Sometimes he said he was changing location every four days and sleeping in lice-infested beds. Other times he said he was at a house very near his compound. Still other times, he claimed he had never left the compound because he didn’t like the look of traffic on the highway.

There is no highway near his compound.

What’s all this spy business about?

After the police raided his property in April, McAfee says he “went on the offensive”.

This is where it gets real. Or made up. We’re not really sure.

McAfee then describes an elaborate scheme in which he used his operatives to crack the phone company’s employees and get wiretaps on his targets in the government.

Yes John, much of your life is a mystery to us as well.

McAfee goes on to describe how his wiretaps and operatives discovered a government-backed plot to smuggle Hezbollah operatives into the United States, sordid affairs involving officials, and an ordered assassination by the Belizean Prime Minister.

You should really just read the entire account on his blog.

Is he a supervillain?


Where is he now?

After illegally sneaking into Guatemala from Belize, McAfee was deported by the Guatemalan government and is now back in the United States.

Law enforcement officials in the U.S. said they have no arrest warrant out for McAfee.

McAfee says he’d like to relax, maybe go fishing.

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