The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas has obtained a temporary restraining order preventing a DFW chiropractor from touting sham treatments for COVID-19, announced U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox.
According to a civil complaint filed Thursday, Dr. Ray L. Nannis, the 48-year-old proprietor of Richardson-based Optimum Wellness Solutions, advertised his homeopathic sublinguals as both a “C-19 vaccine” and a “treatment, reducing severity and duration of symptoms, should you test positive.”
(As government officials have widely publicized, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has not identified any immunizations, treatments, or cures for the novel coronavirus to date.)
The Court order, handed down Friday by U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle, prevents Dr. Nannis from promoting worthless and potentially dangerous treatments and requires him to immediately take down all misleading internet posts.
In videos posted to Optimum’s Facebook account, Dr. Nannis promoted and offered to sell homeopathy that supposedly provided “up to 90 percent protection” from COVID-19, according to court documents.
“It will help us avoid being sick or if you do get sick, it’s going to make it very, very, very minimal,” the chiropractor declared in a video posted on April 1.
In a call with a government agent, Dr. Nannis insisted that his homeopathy could provide protection from the novel coronavirus —“more so than any other vaccine out there right now” — and claimed the so-called treatments would also minimize symptoms associated with contracting COVID-19. Although he cautioned that he could not “technically” describe the homeopathy as a “cure” for coronavirus due to FDA restrictions, he nevertheless stated that it “basically” was “for all intents and purposes.”
Dr. Nannis, who is a licensed chiropractor but lacks a medical degree or medical license, offered to sell the homeopathy sublinguals to the government agent for $95 per dose.
Alleging Dr. Nannis was facilitating a “predatory” ongoing wire fraud scheme to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic, the government sought injunctive relief under the Anti-Fraud Injunction statute.
The enforcement action follows Attorney General William Barr’s recent memo to U.S. Attorneys nationwide to prioritize the detection, investigation, and prosecution of unlawful conduct related to the pandemic.
“As a community, we cannot and will not allow individuals to peddle false hope during this pandemic in order to line their own pockets,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. “By promoting these unsubstantiated ‘treatments’ for COVID-19, this defendant substituted profits for the safety of the public. We are gratified the Court acted quickly to put a stop to this egregious conduct.”
“The subject in this case abused his position of trust for his own personal benefit by preying on customers’ basic human condition, fear, by selling a fictitious COVID-19 remedy. This case should serve as a strong deterrent for those considering taking part in similar fraud schemes,” said William Smarr, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service’s Dallas Field Office. “The Secret Service, along with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, and in partnership with our federal, state and local counterparts will continue to combat COVID-19 related fraud. As this pandemic evolves and federal funds are distributed to those suffering from economic losses, the Secret Service will continue to detect, investigate and arrest criminals who attempt to prey on vulnerable citizens and businesses.”
The U.S. Secret Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Robbins and Kenneth Coffin are handling the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Fabio Leonardi is the Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator for the Northern District of Texas.
Under the leadership of Attorney General Barr, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas remains vigilant in detecting wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is committed to investigating and prosecuting scammers who attempt to prey upon the public’s fear. The Justice Department urges members of the public who think they may have encountered an attempted scam involving COVID-19 to contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by phone at 1-866-720-5721 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/report-covid-19-fraud.