A Carmel Valley, California, physician was on Thursday charged with fraud after he allegedly sold medicines that he claimed were “miracle cure” for the novel coronavirus.

The man, identified as 44-year-old Dr. Jennings Ryan Staley – who was a licensed physician and the medical director of the Skinny Beach MedSpa based in Carmel Valley in San Diego, that offered a range of beauty-related services such as botox, hair removal, and fat transfer, was charged with fraud in connection to the sale of what he described to his patients as a “100%” cure for coronavirus which would provide the ones taking the medication an immunity to the virus for at least six weeks.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, the medspa posted an advertisement on Facebook claiming to have started services for the coronavirus patients.

“Complimentary COVID-19 Consultation & New Services Now Available – COVID-19 telemedicine consultations, testing, and treatment now available at home,” the post which was later taken down read.

Omer Meisel, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Diego field office said in a statement, “The sale of false cures, especially by a medical professional, will be vigorously investigated by the FBI.”

The FBI team started investigating Staley after they received multiple tips from the public. According to a statement released by the South California US Attorney’s office, the medspa in one of the marketing emails they sent out offered “COVID-19 treatment packs,” described as a “concierge medicine experience” which were priced at $3,995 sufficient for a family of four, which included hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, and anti-anxiety treatments that help avoid panic and if needed helped to sleep.

An FBI appointed undercover agent responded to the advertisement saying he will be needing enough amount of the medication to keep his family of six immune to the virus.

Staley who fell for the trap after a few days contacted the agent.

“It’s incredible. There’s never been before, except for hepatitis C, in the history of medicine been a situation where a medication is completely curative of a virus,” Staley told the agent in a recorded phone call. “You could be short of breath and coughing at noon today, and if I start your hydroxychloroquine loading dose, you’ll feel 99% better by noon tomorrow,” he added.

Staley described the medication he was offering as “an amazing cure” and a “miracle cure” that would cure COVID-19 “100%,” the statement read.

A week later, Staley was interviewed by the FBI. When the agents asked him whether the medspa claimed that the treatments are a 100% effective cure for COVID-19, he bluntly denied saying, “No, that would be foolish. We would never say anything like that.” He also told the agents that it was “not definitive” that the medication he offered was a cure to COVID-19.

“We will not tolerate COVID-19 fraudsters who try to profit and take advantage of the pandemic fear to cheat, steal and harm others,” said U.S. Attorney Robert S Brewer Jr. “Rest assured: those who engage in this despicable conduct will find themselves in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors.”

Staley was scheduled to be trialed in federal court on Friday. If convicted he could face 20 years in prison.

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Representational image of a woman wearing a mask to safeguard herself from the coronavirus. Tumisu - Pixabay