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San Diego physician charged in COVID-19 fraud scheme

Posted at 4:16 PM, Apr 16, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A San Diego physician has been charged with fraud in connection with the sale of what he described as a cure for coronavirus.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Dr. Jennings Ryan Staley, the operator of Skinny Beach Med Spa, was charged with mail fraud in the scheme.

The office says Staley promised the cure would "render customers immune to the virus for at least six weeks."

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FBI agents were tipped off to the scheme after receiving reports from the public.

According to agents, the spa began sending out emails offering "COVID-19 treatment packs" for nearly $4,000 for a family of four.

The treatments included access to "medications hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, and “anti-anxiety treatments to help you avoid panic if needed and help you sleep.”

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

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“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 Brewer. “Rest assured: those who engage in this despicable conduct will find themselves in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors.”

Staley is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Friday at 2 p.m.