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Marvel movie actor busted by FBI for selling fake coronavirus medicine

Published Mar 27th, 2020 10:30AM EDT
coronavirus scam
Image: Olaf Heil/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

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  • FBI agents busted a man who claimed to be selling coronavirus cures and treatments. 
  • The man turned out to be Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, an actor who has had small roles in multiple big-budget Hollywood movies including Moneyball as well as Marvel’s Thor, Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3.
  • Middlebrook faces up to 20 years in prison after attempting to raise money from investors for his fraudulent business. 
  • There is no known treatment or cure for COVID-19 infection, and vaccines currently in development could take up to 18 months to reach doctors. 
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping across the globe has brought out the best in a lot of people. Healthcare workers, scientists, and everyday citizens are doing beyond the call of duty to mitigate the damage the virus is causing and work toward a long-term solution. But not everyone has such good intentions, and some are using the outbreak to make a quick buck any way they can.

FBI agents recently arrested a California man who had been attempting to cash in on the COVID-19 outbreak by selling what he claimed were cures for the viral infection. The man, Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, marketed his fake treatments on YouTube, boasting that he had developed both a “coronavirus prevention pill” as well as an injectable medication to cure those who were already infected.

Middlebrook was bold in his scummy business moves, even going so far as to seek investors in his “company” who were looking to profit from what would surely be a boom in demand for coronavirus treatments. Unfortunately for him, a meeting he arranged with a would-be investor to deliver some of the pills put him face-to-face with an undercover FBI agent.

Middlebrook isn’t exactly a household name, but he’s been in a lot of huge blockbusters and TV shows. He had small or uncredited roles in Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Moneyball, Thor, The Sopranos, Entourage, and several others.

A Department of Justice report reveals even more about the bizarre scheme:

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. Mr. Johnson confirmed to investigators that he knew nothing about Middlebrook’s company.

Middlebrook claimed the treatments worked, claiming that at least one confirmed COVID-19 patient was “cured” within four days of receiving an injection of one of his drugs. He used these false claims to solicit huge sums of money from investors, promising 200%-300% returns on investments as large as $1 million.

“During these difficult days, scams like this are using blatant lies to prey upon our fears and weaknesses,” US Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement. “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 now faces up to 20 years in prison, and his snake oil business has been crushed.