A man who claimed in a strange series of YouTube and Instagram videos that he had created a miracle cure for the novel coronavirus and needed financing to mass produce an unproven pill was arrested Wednesday by the FBI.
Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, 53, was arrested Wednesday while delivering the pills to an undercover FBI agent posing as an investor, according to Thom Mrozek, director of media relations for the U.S. Attorney's Office. Middlebrook, whose IMDB page says he landed a role in an "Iron Man" movie, allegedly had previously told the agent that a $300,000 investment would yield $30 million in returns.
"Middlebrook fraudulently solicited funds with promises of massive profits for a company he called Quantum Prevention CV Inc. (QP20), and he 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," Mrozek said.
Johnson confirmed to investigators that he knew nothing about Middlebrook's company.
Middlebrook allegedly wrote to a cooperating witness in the investigation, "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...Investors who come in at ground level say $1M will parachute with $200M - $300M."
More than 2 million people watched Middlebrook's YouTube and Instagram videos, where authorities say he falsely claimed to have developed a COVID-19 prevention pill and a cure for those already infected, Mrozek said.
In a video posted to his Instagram account, Middlebrook said that because of the pill, he could walk into Staples Center filled with infected people and not contract the virus. He claimed to have studied cell tissue and chemical biology for many years.
"I've created a cure for COVID-19, the coronavirus," he said in one video, holding up a syringe to the camera. "This is it, right here."
He also claimed to have injected a COVID-19 patient at a Los Angeles hospital with the "cure" and had a meeting set up with President Trump.
There is no specific medicine to prevent or treat coronavirus disease.
Middlebrook is charged with one felony count of attempted wire fraud, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, according to Mrozek.
Middlebrook is scheduled to appear in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles Thursday afternoon.