The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a California man who claimed to have developed a cure for COVID-19 and soliciting for investments in his company.
Keith Lawrence Middlebrook allegedly advertised on Instagram that he’d invented a “coronavirus prevention pill” and an injectable “COVID-19 formula vaccine cure
The 53-year-old man also claims of Earvin “Magic” Johnson being in his board of directors,he promised potential investors millions of dollars in returns.
He’s now charged with attempted wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The federal case is one of the first in US first federal criminal case tied to the novel coronavirus.
Middlebrook was previously arrested for wire fraud in 2014 after allegedly running a fraudulent credit score improvement business. The case was dismissed in 2016
Middlebrook has an Instagram account with about 2.4 million followers. The man who claimed to have studied cell tissue and chemical biology for years, in several videos shared on YouTube, claimed to have invented a pill that cures and prevents COVID-19
State attorneys general have also cracked down on virus-related scams, including New York AG Letitia James who censured radio host Alex Jones for marketing toothpaste and other products as coronavirus killers
The Justice Department and other federal agencies have urged citizens to report coronavirus-related fraud
U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said; “During these difficult days, scams like this are using blatant lies to prey upon our fears and weaknesses.
“While this may be the first federal criminal case in the nation stemming from the pandemic, it certainly will not be the last. I again am urging everyone to be extremely wary of outlandish medical claims and false promises of immense profits.”