Federal Grand Jury Indicts Orange County Man in Investment Fraud Scheme Centering on Bogus Claims of COVID-19 Cure
LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury this afternoon indicted a Huntington Beach man on fraud charges that allege he solicited people around the nation to invest in a companies that would market pills he claimed would prevent coronavirus infections and produce an injectable cure for those already suffering from COVID-19.
Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, 52, was named in an indictment that charges him with 11 counts of wire fraud stemming from solicitations he allegedly made to potential investors in Nevada, New York, Texas and Colorado.
“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 this case on March 25 after Middlebrook delivered pills – purportedly the treatment that prevents coronavirus infection – to an undercover agent who was posing as an investor. Two of the charges in the indictment relate to communications with the undercover agent.
The indictment alleges that Middlebrook claimed to have personally developed a “patent-pending” cure and a treatment to prevent coronavirus infection, even though “[g]overnmental and non-governmental health organizations both within the United States and abroad confirmed that there was no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine then known to prevent or treat COVID-19,” according to the indictment.
Middlebrook fraudulently solicited investments in companies he called Quantum Prevention CV Inc. (also called QP20) and Quantum Cure CV 2020 Inc. (also known as QC20) with a series of false promises. Those fraudulent claims included miraculous results from the prevention product and the cure, risk-free and 100 percent guaranteed “enormous returns” on investments,” and that Earvin “Magic” Johnson was a director and/or officer of QC20, the indictment alleges.
“To bolster these claims, defendant Middlebrook falsely represented that an unnamed party in Dubai had offered to purchase the companies for $10 billion, and this offer would secure the victim-investors’ investments in QP20 and/or QC20; and that he had secured funding from seven investors who had each already invested between $750,000 and $1,000,000,” the indictment alleges.
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.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Each of the 11 counts of wire fraud alleged in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
The investigation in this matter is being conducted by the FBI.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Valerie Makarewicz and James Hughes of the Major Frauds Section.
Members of the public are urged to report suspected fraud schemes related to the coronavirus and COVID-19 by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or completing an online complaint form.