FBI arrests man for hawking fake ‘coronavirus prevention pill’

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The Justice Department arrested a California man for hawking a pretend COVID-19 treatment, marking the primary federal prison case tied to the novel coronavirus. Keith Lawrence Middlebrook allegedly marketed on Instagram that he’d invented a “coronavirus prevention pill” and an injectable “COVID-19 formula vaccine cure,” falsely claimed that basketball participant Earvin “Magic” Johnson was on his firm’s board, and promised potential traders thousands and thousands of {dollars} in returns. He was arrested after delivering his “prevention pills” to an undercover FBI agent.

There isn’t any vaccine or therapy for the novel coronavirus, though researchers are conducting scientific trials for each. But Middlebrook claimed he was about to mass-produce his personal treatment. The Justice Department says he garnered round 2 million views on YouTube and Instagram, and he spoke to not less than two folks about investments: one FBI agent and one cooperating witness. He’s now charged with tried wire fraud, which carries a most penalty of 20 years in jail.

FBI arrests man for hawking fake ‘coronavirus prevention pill’

The new coronavirus is spreading by the US, and a number of other states have made emergency declarations. The World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic. Here are the fundamentals:

Everything you should know in regards to the coronavirus

According to California court docket information, Middlebrook was beforehand arrested for wire fraud in 2014 after allegedly working a fraudulent credit score rating enchancment enterprise. The case was dismissed in 2016.

The Justice Department and different federal companies have urged residents to report coronavirus-related fraud. The Food and Drug Administration despatched stop and desist letters to several companies selling important oils or ingestible silver for COVID-19 prevention, and the Justice Department filed its first enforcement motion over the weekend, issuing a temporary restraining order in opposition to a website promoting pretend “vaccine kits” to gather bank card data from patrons.

State attorneys basic have additionally cracked down on virus-related scams, together with New York AG Letitia James who censured radio host Alex Jones for advertising and marketing toothpaste and different merchandise as coronavirus killers. Missouri’s legal professional basic sued to stop televangelist Jim Bakker from promoting his personal ineffective and probably harmful therapy.

US Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen has also said that individuals who deliberately expose others to the novel coronavirus could possibly be charged underneath federal terrorism legal guidelines because the virus meets the definition of a “biological agent.” However, there have been no arrests for intentional publicity up to now.