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John McAfee didn’t own condo in collapsed Florida building

June 25, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: The late John McAfee, the creator of McAfee antivirus software, owned a unit in the condo building that partially collapsed Thursday outside Miami and 31 terabytes of his files were located inside.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. McAfee, who was found dead in his jail cell near Barcelona on Wednesday, didn’t own property at the beachfront Champlain Towers South Condo in Florida, according to an Associated Press review of public records. An image of a tweet in which McAfee claims to own such a property is fabricated.

THE FACTS: At the close of a week that included the prison death of an eccentric security software pioneer and the collapse of a 12-story oceanfront condominium tower near Miami, social media users hatched false conspiracy theories that bound the two unrelated events together.

“John McAfee owned a unit at the building that collapsed,” read images of a Facebook comment shared thousands of times across social media platforms on Friday. “The address of the building was 8777 Collins Avenue South. Here is a tweet he put out June 8, 2021.”

“If anything ever happens to me, please know that the 31TB of files I have are located on hard drives in my condo near 88th Street and Collins Avenue just north of Miami Beach,” read text in an image made to resemble a tweet from McAfee’s account.

The AP reviewed property records for the wing of the building that collapsed Thursday. Neither McAfee nor his wife was listed as the owner of any property onsite, nor were any of the business entities that owned property in the building associated with them.

A review of McAfee’s address history and business affiliations also revealed zero connection to any of the businesses owning property there.

The fake tweet social media users pointed to as evidence that McAfee owned a condo in the collapsed building did not appear on McAfee’s Twitter feed, nor in a digital archive of his account. McAfee appears to have tweeted twice on June 8. Neither post referenced Florida or file storage.

McAfee, a 75-year-old British-American tycoon who was arrested last October following tax evasion charges in Tennessee, claimed in a June 2019 tweet that he had 31 terabytes of files on government corruption. He did not announce their location.

McAfee was found dead in his cell on Wednesday while awaiting extradition to the United States. His widow on Friday demanded a “thorough investigation” of his death, though Spanish authorities have said everything at the scene in his cell indicated that he killed himself.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536