The California-based small-time actor, who has 2.5 million followers on Instagram, was charged with one count of attempted wire fraud.
According to the allegations, Middlebrook had sought investors for his “patent-pending” cure for the deadly virus, and had claimed to have retired basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson on his board of directors. Johnson told authorities he did not know the suspect.
The statutory maximum penalty for the crime is 20 years in prison.
In a statement, US Attorney Nick Hanna said: “During these difficult days, scams like this are using blatant lies to prey upon our fears and weaknesses.”
“While this may be the first federal criminal case in the nation stemming from the pandemic, it certainly will not be the last,” he continued.
There is currently no known cure for Covid-19. You can keep up-to-date with the latest coronavirus-related news here.