(LOS ANGELES) – The FBI has arrested a Southern California man who officials say was fake providing coronavirus treatment and seeking shares in a company he said would sell the vaccine, federal prosecutors said.
Keith Lawrence Middlebrook told 2.4 million Instagram followers that his company would return millions of dollars in profits, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday.
Middlebrook claims it has developed antibiotics to prevent COVID-19 infection and a drug that can cure already infected people, prosecutors said.
There is no known cure or vaccine for the disease. The case is believed to be the first in the United States that has been linked to the Coronavirus fraud, prosecutors said.
Middlebrook, 53, could face a felony charge of wire fraud. It is not known Thursday if he has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
He was arrested during an interview where he handed over the drugs to an FBI agent who appears to be an investor, officials said.
Middlebrook says former basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the investors in his company called Quantum Prevention CV Inc., according to a statement from the Justice Department. The statement said Johnson said they knew nothing about Middlebrook, the statement said.
In a text message Middlebrook wrote that a Los Angeles patient caring for the disease “got up and walked 51 hours after the injection,” according to a statement from investigators.
In the same note, Middlebrook also wrote that investors who have spent $ 1 million could see the return of “$ 200M – $ 300M… less conservative,” the statement said.
“In these tough days, scams like this are using big statements to exploit our fears and weaknesses,” Attorney Nick Hanna said.
Middlebrook, an actor who has several unidentified films and television appearances, appeared before a federal court Thursday, where a judge ruled on April 16.
Summary of Coronavirus. Everything you need to know about the spread of COVID-19 in the world
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