John McAfee has recruited 'hundreds' of masked look-alikes for his 2020 presidential bid

The crypto-enthusiast is enlisting volunteers to wear masks of his face and hit the campaign trail. Why? Because he's on a boat on the run from the IRS.

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The software tycoon's presidential run has taken on a "Being John McAfee" vibe. 

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John McAfee's presidential bid has just taken a turn.

Last year, the former antivirus software magnate announced his intention to run as a candidate in the 2020 US presidential election. But in a series of videos posted to Twitter on Tuesday, McAfee claimed he will now have to run his campaign "in exile" because he's fleeing felony charges brought by the IRS.

How do you run for president when you're on the run? Using thousands of surrogate "road warriors" dressed up in John McAfee masks.

"Today a grand jury was convened by the IRS to indict Janice [McAfee, John McAfee's wife] and myself and four as-yet-unnamed campaign workers, for various tax fraud issues," he said in one video post, filmed on his "freedom boat" in unnamed tropical waters. 

CNET was unable to verify the nature of the IRS indictment. The IRS has been contacted for comment. 

CNET contacted McAfee via the email address listed on his Twitter account. In reply, McAfee told CNET he could not "say exactly" where he was in the ocean, but that he was yet to receive full details of the charges in the indictment.

"The charges were read to the Grand Jury today in Tennessee," he wrote. "Remember: it is a Grand Jury. Its very existence is kept secret from the defendants ... Defendants are never allowed to see evidence which is presented nor hear testimony against themselves. I know about it because I am a cybersecurity specialist. My talent is to be able to find out anything. It should be expected that I will be alerted to anything that involves my name."

But despite the reported indictment, McAfee has not been deterred from his presidential ambitions. 

"You're probably wondering how I'm going to manage my presidential campaign from a boat," he said in a second video on his Twitter feed on Tuesday.

"[Volunteers] are creating masks of my face which are going to be given to thousands of people in two different groups. First our road warriors who, once a month are going to appear in parks, street corners, restaurants all around America while I speak through loud speakers through them."

McAfee said a second group would appear in the masks at keynotes and conferences to represent his campaign on the road.

"I will be going to conferences as a surrogate. I will be looking at people through a camera, answering questions, shaking hands as I tell my surrogate to shake hands, and speaking."

McAfee told CNET he has already had "hundreds" of people sign up to be surrogates for his campaign. 

While the McAfee 2020 campaign has pivoted, it's certainly been far from mundane until this point.

Since announcing his presidential run in June 2018 (on a platform of serving the "crypto community" and using his platform to "tell the truth"), McAfee's Twitter feed has been filled with spicy (and downright NSFW) memes about his bid to become the leader of the free world.

By Tuesday, his social media feed included posts of McAfee in a wig he says he used for "walking past government observers surrounding our neighborhoid [sic]" and videotaped screeds about cryptocurrencies and fighting the "yoke" of government control. 

First published Jan. 22 at 9:13 p.m. PT.
Update, Jan. 23 at 3:47 p.m. PT: Adds comment from John McAfee. 

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