John McAfee: anti-virus pioneer, escaped murder suspect… master spy?

John McAfee

John McAfee

Think you could do with an extra dose of crazy in your life? The latest John McAfee episode should do you just fine. Apparently the anti-virus pioneer turned murder suspect was actually a master spy the whole time.

You might recall that back in November, McAfee went on the run after being declared a person of interest in the murder of his neighbour Gregory Faull on Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast of Belize.

The American billionaire claimed that was he had been set up as a suspect by Belizian authorities and that if caught, he would be detained, tortured and possibly killed. He continued blogging while on the run, claiming that he had avoided capture by adopting a series of elaborate disguises.

Eventually McAfee was arrested after illegally crossing the border to Guatemala, before being returned to the US.

Now he claims that he was actually spying on the Belizian government in the lead up to his arrest, having given key people laptops which he could access remotely:

I purchased 75 cheap laptop computers and, with trusted help, installed invisible keystroke logging software on all of them — the kind that calls home (to me) and disgorges the text files. It also, on command, turns on, and off, the microphone and camera—and sends these files on command. I had the computers re-packaged as if new. I began giving these away as presents to select people—government employees, police officers, Cabinet Minister’s assistants, girlfriends of powerful men, boyfriends of powerful women.

I hired four trusted people full time to monitor the text files and provide myself with the subsequent passwords for everyone’s e-mail, Facebook, private message boards, and other passworded accounts. The keystroke monitoring continued after password collection, in order to document text input that would later be deleted. So nothing was missed.

I next collected my human resources for the complex social engineering I would have to do. I arranged with 23 women and six men to be my operatives. Eight of the women were so accomplished that they ended up living with me. It was amazingly more efficient and they were easily convinced to check up on each other. One was so accomplished (Marcia) that she became a double agent and nearly got me killed.

McAfee claims he taught his operatives how to illicitly install software on people’s laptops and take information from their mobile phones. This is, apparently, easy when you’re engaged in a sexual affair with someone. And getting his agents involved in those affairs was supposedly easy. “What I found was, for the most part, expected,” McAfee wrote. “Uncountable numbers of sexual affairs — embarrassingly lurid and intimate chats. Multiple, simultaneous protestations of love, and jealousy, and anger”.

That apparently wasn’t enough though. McAfee claims he later organised wiretaps against several prominent officials with the help of two phone companies.

In his probings he claims to have discovered that the prime minister of Belize had personally ordered a murder along with the existence of a Hezbollah trafficking network that funneled 11 Lebanese men and women a month into a America. Not just any Lebanese people though, terrorists.

McAfee then decided to investigate:

I know all of this because I reassigned resources and for the past three months have had two people in Nicaragua that have made connections with the Hezbollah camp and I have three people in Mexico who have made connections with mid-level Zeta [a drug gang] members. I will release no information at this point that will implicate these five people.

If you’re wondering why McAfee did all this, well so is he:

“I’m not sure what I expected to gain,” he writes. “The satisfaction of revenge perhaps — to some extent — what little satisfaction there is in revenge. As a way to get my stuff back? Maybe. For the sheer joy of muscle flexing? I can’t answer precisely. Much of my life is a mystery to me. Suffice it to say: I just did it because I could.”

Of course, it’s entirely possible that McAfee fabricated all of this. After all, as Ars Technica notes, he’s previously faked a heart attack, written crazy blog posts and engaged in generally odd behaviour.

If this latest blog post is the ranting of a mad billionaire though, at least it’s entertaining.



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