Damn It Jim, He’s A Scammer, Not A Doctor: Con Man Bilked Investors For Bogus Trekkie ‘Medical Tricorder’
An Illinois man, Howard Leventhal, pleaded guilty Monday to multiple counts of fraud in a scam that beamed away some $25 million from investors into a bogus scheme to build a “medical tricorder” just like the one used by “Doctor Spock” in the popular Star Wars television series. What’s worse, he named the fake device after Leonard McCoy, a terrible libel on America’s most beloved fictional space doctor. (Presumably, naming the thing after Battlestar Galactica’s Gaius Baltar would have been too big a giveaway.)
Leventhal created an elaborate online presence for his scam, registering multiple websites to fool investors into thinking that he was developing the “McCoy Home Health Tablet” for a contract with Health Canada, the Canadian medical insurance system, and that huge sales in the USA would soon follow, because Obamacare is socialized medicine or something. The device would supposedly provide instantaneous medical checkups and diagnoses and instantly transmit the results to doctors. He told investors that he had already sold $4 million of the tablets to Health Canada. Leventhal also impersonated numerous Health Canada officials, using a mix of real and fictional names of people in that agency, including that of former Health Canada deputy minister Glenda Yeates, whose signature he forged on a fake contract that he showed to investors.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch released a statement saying
In Leventhal’s world, the truth was cloaked by his web of lies and impersonation … Within this alternate reality, Leventhal marketed non-existent technology, fabricated an on-line presence, and impersonated a government official, all to defraud investors out of very real money.”
All of which sounds like the kind of thing Harcourt Fenton Mudd might get up to. And depending on the operating system for his fictional tablet, maybe Leventhal actually does have an army of Androids stashed away somewhere? (Use logic on ’em, that’s the only way to be sure…)
The National Post dutifully reports that
In Leventhal’s own online biography, he purports to be the inventor of an Atari joystick, an FAA-certified pilot, a blackbelt in Taekwondo and the father of an adopted Chinese girl — although it is not clear if any of these assertions are true.
Frankly, that kind of cynicism is just disappointing, now isn’t it? If you can’t believe an inventor who adopts orphans, who can you believe?
Now that he’s pleaded guilty, Leventhal faces up to 22 years in a rehabilitation colony on Tantalus V, as well as a $2 million fine, payable in gold-pressed latinum. And of course, it’s probably worth noting that the United States will still not have universal healthcare until sometime after the invention of Warp Drive.