LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A federal grand jury on Friday indicted a Huntington Beach man on fraud charges after he allegedly posted videos on social media fraudulently claiming that he developed both a pill that would not only cure, but prevent, the novel coronavirus in an attempt to solicit funds from investors.
Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, 52, has been charged with 11 counts of wire fraud stemming from alleged solicitations he made to potential investors in Nevada, New York, Texas, and Colorado.
“Not only did I create the cure, but this pill right here is the prevention,” Middlebrook said in a video posted to Instagram.
More than two million people watched Middlebrook’s YouTube and Instagram videos, where authorities said he falsely claimed to have developed a COVID-19 prevention pill and a cure for those already infected. It was not immediately clear what was in the pills.
“Through text messages, videos, and statements sent to potential investors and posted on the internet, including on Instagram and YouTube, defendant Middlebrook falsely claimed to have developed a cure for the COVID-19 virus, which he called ‘QC20,’ and a treatment that prevented a person from being infected by the COVID-19 virus, which he called ‘QP20,’” according to the indictment.
The FBI arrested Middlebrook in March, after he delivered his coronavirus treatment pills to an undercover agent posing as an investor. Investigators said Middlebrook promised an initial $300,000 investment would easily yield a $30 million return.
Following his arrest at the March 25 meeting in El Segundo, Middlebrook remained in custody until May 6, when he was freed on a $150,000 bond. His arraignment on the indictment has not yet been scheduled.