A Southern California man who’s also had small roles in a number of films has been arrested for allegedly trying to scam potential investors by claiming to have invented a cure for the coronavirus and a pill that would protect people from COVID-19.
Federal agents arrested Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, 53, on Wednesday on one count of attempted wire fraud, the U.S Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California said in a release issued this week.
A criminal complaint filed prior to his arrest alleges that Middlebrook orchestrated a scheme wherein he claimed to have created a coronavirus cure as well as a treatment that prevents one from contracting COVID-19.
The actor is also accused of trying to dupe investors out of thousands with the false promise of reaping greater rewards once the treatments took off, according to officials. He wrote in one message to a potential investor, who was actually working with prosecutors, that “investors who come in at ground level say $1M will parachute with $200M - $300M…Conservative Minimum,” authorities said
Middlebrook is alleged to have created two fake corporations: Quantum Prevention CV Inc. (QP20), a company he claimed would produce the medicine that would protect individuals from getting COVID-19, and Quantum Cure CV 2020 (QC20), which he said would provide the public with a medicine that would purportedly heal those with COVID-19 in a matter of days, the release states.
An affidavit claims that Middlebrook told one potential investor — another witness for the prosecution — that his cure was so powerful that “an LA Patient [who] tested Positive for CoronaVirus got up and walked out 51 hours after my Injection.”
Middlebrook, who had a large amount of followers on social media with whom he shared his claims of a cure, also alleged that he had celebrity power behind his brand: namely, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, according to authorities.
Middlebrook claimed Johnson was a member of his board of directors, but the former basketball star turned businessman reportedly told investigators that he had never heard of Middlebrook’s company.
The alleged scheme came to an end when an FBI agent, pretending to be a potential investigator, met with Middlebrook for a delivery of the so-called wonder drug, and instead took Middlebrook into custody, investigators said.
“During these difficult days, scams like this are using blatant lies to prey upon our fears and weaknesses,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said. “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.”
Middlebrook has also worked as an actor with a number of uncredited roles in primarily low-budget films to his name, according to his IMDb profile.
If convicted, Middlebrook faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in a federal prison, authorities said. He appeared in federal court on Thursday, where a judge ruled that he return to court to be arraigned on April 16, the Associated Press reports.
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