Nancy Grace busts coronavirus scams: 'Don't be a victim!'

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Former prosecutor and Fox Nation host Nancy Grace is calling attention to a series of alarming possible crimes popping up around the country, as some people seek to allegedly take advantage of fellow their Americans amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"Online scams, jacking up the prices of Purell to $48 a bottle, people losing money, Jim Bakker, the televangelist on TV, offering a cure for coronavirus and people spending their hard earned money on it. What is going on?" said Grace on her Fox Nation show "Crime Stories" on Wednesday.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced last week that he has filed a lawsuit against Christian televangelist Jim Bakker for misleading claims about a product sold during a Feb. 12 episode of "The Jim Bakker show," which was marketed as a possible safeguard against coronavirus.

"Jim Bakker, disgraced televangelist, trying to sell a cure for the coronavirus," exclaimed an exasperated Grace.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Bakker and his then-wife, the late-Tammy Fayye Bakker, were among the most famous televangelists in the country, running a multimillion dollar empire that eventually came crashing down.

In 1989, Bakker was convicted on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison and ordered to pay a $500,000 fine. Bakker served only five years and was paroled in 1994, after he appealed the sentence.

"Now we know that he rebuilt his empire after doing a stint in jail. And this is just one of the ways he's doing it," Grace continued. "The FDA says he is misleading viewers into thinking silver solution can keep the coronavirus at bay and even, 'kill it,' within twelve hours. That is entirely false."

"This is actually something that we call a heavy metal," said medical examiner Dr. Michelle Dupre, describing the colloidal silver solution sold on Bakker's show.  "And there is no use for this in the body... too much of it is damaging to many of your internal organs... Your skin turns blue. Your hands, your face, your whole body."

In a statement to The Washington Post, "The Jim Bakker Show" claimed “We believe in Optivida Silver Solution ... because of the research and the advice from medical professionals that we respect."

Grace also raised the flag over online frauds that prey on people's lack of knowledge and anxiety about coronavirus.


"Very often the scams look like an official notice," warned Grace. "I got one from American Express. It looked just like American Express. It wasn't about coronaviruses, it was another scam. It wasn't an American Express, but it was using their logo with their colors. It happens all the time."

Career trial attorney Wendy Patrick explained that some of these schemes encourage potential victims to open harmful links or attachments on their computers or lure people into divluging personal information.

"You're exploiting unfamiliarity," said Patrick of the mindset of these crooks. "You're looking for people online that won't recognize a scam. You're preying on people that can't tell the difference."

Grace cautioned that anything from any unrecognized sender is a potential risk.

"By clicking on that attachment, it actually delivers 'malware,'" she explained.  "'Mal' like Maleficent, the evil witch or malignant. 'Mal' means bad."

Lastly, Grace also took issue with a pair of brothers in Tennessee, Matt and Noah Colvin, who attracted the attention of state law enforcement, after they were found to be stockpiling bottles of hand sanitizer, masks, anti-bacterial wipes and other goods, with the intent of selling the items online at marked up prices.

Patrick told Grace that these brothers may have actually committed a crime.

"The price gouging laws kick in when you're reselling a product at a certain percentage over what it would normally sell for," explained Patrick. "These guys and people like them [who] are seeking to exploit pandemic panic buying are in a hard spot trying to justify why they needed to raise the price as much as they did."


The New York Times reported that Matt Colvin sold the sanitizer online for between $8 and $70 each, multiple times higher than what he paid for the product at local stores.

"If it's an exorbitant difference, then you bet it goes into price gouging criminal laws," said Patrick, "They're going to have to explain why they needed to raise the price as much as they did and how much that same bottle would gone for... just three weeks earlier."

"Coronavirus is bringing out not only the best, such as nurses and doctors, leaving their own families and working around the clock, scientists trying their best to come up with answers, but the worst. Please don't be a victim," Grace concluded.

To hear more about this investigation and watch all of "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" go to Fox Nation and sign up today.


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Fox News' Louis Casiano, Greg Norman contributed to this report.