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A prominent psychoanalyst warned that some Americans may find themselves more susceptible to falling victim to coronavirus-related crimes, as con men seek to exploit people’s “primitive” responses during a crisis.
“The elderly specifically are susceptible to coronavirus, we know that,” said Grace on her Fox Nation’s show “Crime Stories” on Tuesday. “They are the ones watching infomercials.”
Los Angeles psychoanalyst Dr. Bethany Marshall told Grace that these alleged criminals prey on people’s ancient response mechanisms.
“What’s happening during this pandemic is the amygdala, the primitive part of the brain that ensured our survival as a species, is getting very activated and panicky and in the face of the unknown,” she explained.
Last week, federal agents arrested a Southern California man who allegedly claimed in online videos that he had a cure for the coronavirus and was even using Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s name as a ruse to lure investors.
Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, 53, who held small-time uncredited roles in “Iron Man 3,” “Thor” and “Moneyball,” was taken into custody after an undercover sting operation. He was charged with one count of attempted wire fraud and faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced on March 10 that he had filed a lawsuit against 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.
“[Middlebrook], like Jim Bakker, is the updated version of the cult leader,” said Marshall. “He has 2.5 million followers on Instagram. He’s probably been grooming them for some time. He’s been engaging in low-level cons, benefiting from them, grooming them, establishing relationships. And what he’s done is he’s playing on their most primitive fears.”
“They are so invested in believing in him and in staying well and being a part of this online group, who probably looks up to him and worships them, that their thought process bypasses logic. It’s like wishful thinking, fantasy of thinking,” Marshall concluded.
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Fox News’ Julius Young contributed to this report.