NASHVILLE, Tennessee. In a financial fraud, the founder of a ‘wellness business’, Howard L. Young, 75, promised that he was a Doctor and had developed a new cure for cancer that was supported by Vanderbilt University in a $2 Million trial.
Cancer patients only had to pay $10,000 to enter the trial.
An FBI investigation found that the Howard L Young was not a doctor.
Nor even a Naturopath.
It has been alleged that he was actually operating a financial fraud and Ponzi scheme to defraud $10,000 out of desperate patients. He has been charged with
- Four counts of bank fraud
- Six counts of wire fraud
- Aggravated identity theft
It it is alleged that he duped dozens of patients and investors out of $700,000, as announced by U.S. Attorney Don Cochran, for the Middle District of Tennessee.
It is alleged that Young founded Integrative Medical Services (IMS) in 2015 as a holistic wellness business and claimed to be a Doctor of Naturopathy. He did not hold a Medical Doctorate and did not have a medical license.
From 2017, Young began soliciting cancer patients, investors and employees, telling them that he had obtained a $2 million grant from Vanderbilt University to study cancer patients and other patients with chronic medical conditions.
Young claimed he was awarded this grant because he had cured himself of cancer, using naturopathic methods.
It was also promised that as part of the study, patients would receive nutritional supplements, blood testing, nutrition and exercise coaching, gym memberships, massages, and acupuncture. This is known as a pledge where the scammer shows the victim something that is real to remove suspicion - in this example a fraud costing $10,000 can easily allow the scammer to afford a $30/mo gym membership to keep victims in the dark.
If patients could not afford to pay the $10,000 up-front, they were required to secure a CareCredit credit card or open a Health Credit Services account.
Each of these products is designed to assist patients in paying for medical treatments and functions like a revolving line of credit or an unsecured installment loan and requires the patient to make monthly installment payments.
Young promised patients that he would hold the initial funds withdrawn in escrow and would make all monthly payments and would pay off all existing balances at the conclusion of one year, so long as the patient continued to abide by all study protocols.
Young did not hold the money in escrow as he promised and withdrew a portion of the funds for his own personal use, made payments to his personal credit cards, and made minimum payments on account holders’ credit accounts and loan accounts.
To further conceal his scheme, Young also changed the mailing addresses for patients’ accounts at CareCredit and HCS so that the monthly account statements went to a post office box he controlled. Young made minimum payments on the CareCredit and HCS accounts to conceal the fraud and to keep his scheme going so that he could recruit additional patients to participate in the fictitious grant study.
Scam Safety Tip
In this scam, the scammer has used a real university to try to convince his victims that this scam was real. Victims could have contacted Vanderbilt University to verify the claims or have asked the scammer for the press releases or documents about the trial, then checked these with the Media department at Vanderbilt.
If convicted, Young faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn W. Booth is prosecuting the case. A criminal Information is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.