COVID Feature: Still Waiting on a Cure

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Pills spilling out of a prescription bottle on 100 dollar paper currency

Scientists are months, possibly years away from developing a working coronavirus vaccine due to the amount of strenuous testing and development required. Despite this, some fraudsters are claiming they already have effective “cures” for those suffering from COVID-19. One Southern California man stands accused of fraudulently claiming he has a coronavirus cure. (As if a legitimate cure for coronavirus wouldn’t have already made national headlines.)

Keith Middlebrook, of Huntington Beach, allegedly tried to convince investors from Nevada, New York, Texas, and Colorado that his companies were on the verge of selling pills that would prevent coronavirus infections. He also claimed that he was in the midst of developing an injectable cure for those currently suffering from coronavirus. (You have to wonder what he was going to tell investors when his “company” never released any drugs.)

Middlebrook attempted to market his supposed cure known as ‘QC20’ and preventative medicine known as ‘QP20’. Advertisements were distributed on various web platforms including Instagram and YouTube. He also reached out to potential investors through text messages, videos, and formalized statements. (Nothing says professional and legitimate like appealing to investors through a YouTube video.)  

Other fraudulent and outlandish claims were also made in an attempt to attract investors to his COVID-19 fraud scheme. Middlebrook falsely asserted that an unnamed party in Dubai had offered to purchase his companies for $10 billion and that any investments made would be secure. He also claimed that he had secured funding from seven investors. (Each investor supposedly invested between $750,000 and $1 million.)

An undercover FBI agent posed as an investor for Middlebrook’s Quantum Prevention CV Inc. and was able to gain valuable information which led to his arrest on March 25. During this meeting, Middlebrook falsely disclosed that one of his investors was former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson. (One thing is certain – it would definitely take some magic to get Middlebrook out of this COVID-19 fraud situation.)  

A federal grand jury indicted Middlebrook on 11 counts of wire fraud. Each of the 11 counts could carry a maximum of 20 years in prison. (Let’s hope by then we have a cure for COVID-19, no thanks to this fraudster.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Southern California man indicted in COVID-19 fraud scam,” published by L.A. BIZ on June 15, 2020.

A Southern California man who allegedly claimed he had treatments and cures for Covid-19 was indicted for fraud on Friday.

A federal grand jury indicted Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, 52, of Huntington Beach on 11 counts of wire fraud.

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.