William & Mary Business Law Review


The coronavirus pandemic has drastically affected nearly every aspect of American life. Unfortunately, it has also created an opportunity for those willing to exploit vulnerable citizens by selling fake “cures.” This Article analyzes a lawsuit against televangelist Jim Bakker for doing just that. This Article also calls for increased protection for individuals when a global health pandemic and national emergency have been declared. This Article advocates a novel proposal—the enacting of a federal statute making it a felony for an individual to knowingly sell a fraudulent cure for any disease that has been designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization and in which the President of the United States has designated a national emergency.

The following federal criminal statute is proposed:

Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, for the express knowing purpose of obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises of a cure for a disease designated by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic and designated by the President of the United States as a national emergency pursuant to the provisions of the National Emergencies Act, shall be fined not more than $2,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 50 years, or both.

This potent statute will help deter individuals such as Jim Bakker from fraudulently selling “cures” during a pandemic crisis. Additionally, it will serve as a preventative measure in limiting the spread of a deadly pandemic disease such as coronavirus.