In what will probably become a familiar tune, scammers trying to cash in on the coronavirus pandemic are out and about, looking for their next victim. No, we aren’t talking about our government (this time). Be on the lookout for those claiming they have the coronavirus cure. Coronavirus related scams are on the rise.
Actor Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, a 53-year old who has had bit parts in movies such as Iron Man 2, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, and Horrible Bosses, was arrested by the FBI and is being charged with one count of wire fraud, a felony that could carry up to 20 years in prison.
This charge stems from Middlebrook claiming that he personally developed a treatment that prevents coronavirus infection and a cure for the virus. He was soliciting investors for his company, Quantum Prevention CV Inc., which he claimed would market pills to prevent infection and a shot that cured COVID-19, “even though every major health authority has warned that there is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection,” authorities said.
According to Deadline Middlebrook also “falsely claimed to at least one potential investor that Earvin “Magic” Johnson was a member of the board of directors, according to the affidavit in support of the complaint. Mr. Johnson confirmed to investigators that he knew nothing about Middlebrook’s company,” according to authorities.
One would be investor working with the FBI in this investigation received a text from Middlebrook allegedly stating, “I have Developed the Cure for the CoronaVirus COVID-19…*LA Patient tested Positive for CoronaVirus got up and walked out 51 hours after my Injection.” In another text sent to this same investor, as was cited by federal authorities, he allegedly wrote, “Investors who come in at ground level say $1M will parachute with $200M – $300M…Conservative Minimum.”
In his pitch to potential investors, according to the complaint, Middlebrook also claimed that his company would mass-produce the pills to prevent infection and once he received the investor funds, he would issue shares for both Quantum Cure CV 2020 and Quantum Prevention CV. It was Quantum Cure 2020 that Middlebrook claimed would cure COVID-19 patients within two to three days.
The FBI set up a sting to nab Middlebrook and did so, arresting him during a meeting where he delivered pills, that purportedly was the coronavirus treatment, to an investor who actually was an undercover agent. The case is still being investigated by the FBI’s Major Frauds section.
U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna had these words of warning as we go further down the COVID-19 path, “During these difficult days, scams like this are using blatant lies to prey upon our fears and weaknesses,” he said in a statement per The Hollywood Reporter. “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. And to those who perpetrate these schemes, know that federal authorities are out in force to protect all Americans, and we will move aggressively against anyone seeking to cheat the public during this critical time.”