With Facebook’s help, a fake doctor who made millions scamming people is now promoting a bogus coronavirus cure

An image of Robert O. Young

Robert O. Young is a fraudster who made millions selling false medical cures to cancer patients, among others, and went to jail for practicing without a license. Since his release, Young has been promoting bogus cures for cancer and now COVID-19 on his “Dr.Robert.O.Young” Facebook page, which has nearly 60,000 followers. 

Young is a medical commentator whose “foundational” and false medical theory “suggests that the human body is alkaline by design and acidic by function” and the “one treatment” for any health problem is “an alkaline lifestyle and diet.” He co-wrote a series of “pH Miracle” books that are still distributed by Hachette Book Group, one of the largest trade book publishers in the country. 

He currently promotes various alkaline products through the online store pHMiracleProducts.com, which is billed as “the exclusive source of the World’s Number One health and beauty products from the original formulator and manufacturer, Dr. Robert O. Young.” Young filmed a welcome video for the site, has promoted the store on Facebook, and has referred to the products sold there as “our nutritional products.” (Young has claimed that pHMiracleProducts.com “is not my company, you know, I don't make any money by promoting” the products in the store). 

Young has a long history of scamming people. In 2017, he went to jail for several months for practicing medicine without a license (Young's PhD is from an unaccredited and now-shuttered diploma mill). In 2018, a jury awarded $105 million to terminal cancer patient Dawn Kali after Young advised her to undergo his alkaline therapy instead of standard cancer treatments (the judgement was reportedly reduced after appeal). 

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote in June 2017 that as part of a plea deal, “Young had to make a public admission declaring that he is not microbiologist, hematologist, medical or naturopathic doctor or trained scientist.” The publication added that Young’s trial judge “said Young had ‘stolen time’ from terminally ill people, including some who ‘were bilked out of tens of thousands of dollars’ and said he’s “hopeful that this will not repeat itself.” 

Young has returned to scamming people with bogus medical advice. 

The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2019 that Young has been using Facebook to promote “baking-soda injections and juicing regimens” as a way to treat cancer. Young’s use of social media follows a familiar pattern; the Journal wrote that “Gina Darvas, the San Diego deputy district attorney who prosecuted him, said that Mr. Young used the internet—in particular YouTube and Facebook—to earn as much as $5 million a year before his conviction.” 

Despite that report, Facebook has not taken down Young’s page (@Dr.Robert.O.Young), which features numerous posts falsely claiming that he has cured cancer. 

Young is now pitching his services, books, and the “ph Miracle” supplements as a cure for the coronavirus through Facebook and his website, DrRobertYoung.com. An initial one-hour phone consultation with Young costs $300.  

In line with his bogus theories, Young ultimately claims that the coronavirus -- or what he refers to as the “corona effect” -- is the result of people living an acidic lifestyle. As a result, he has claimed that people should follow his teachings or take pH supplements to treat or “cure” the coronavirus. 

Here are five examples from his website: 

  • In a post headlined “Do Germs Like the CoronaVirus Cause Disease?” published on February 12, Young wrote that “disease is manufactured by YOU and your own acidic choices from what you eat, what you drink, what you breathe, what you think, what you feel and what you believe. Disease is not something that you get or catch it is something YOU do. So STOP believing in a phantom virus (HIV, Hepatitis C, Ebola, West Nile, Flu, SARS, ZIKA, Measles, Polio or CORONA VIRUSES) and the germ theory (which has never been proven to cause any disease) and realize that you are the author of your health and fitness or the author of your sickness and disease.” In his conclusion, Young promoted products sold at pHMiracleProducts.com and his books.  
  • In a March 1 post headlined “Protect Yourself From Environmental Acids (Viruses Like Corona & Flu) For True Immunity,” Young recommended products sold at pHMiracleProducts.com and his books. 
  • In a March 15 post headlined “21 Ways to Prevent or Reverse the Symptoms Associated with Coronavirus,” Young recommended “21 different ways to take pHour Salts,” a product that’s sold at pHMiracleProducts.com. 
  • In a March 18 post headlined “The Cause and the Cure for Corona,” Young wrote that “testing is critical for the prevention and successful treatment for the symptoms associated with the ‘Corona Effect’ or what is being called COVID 19” and then directed readers to pHMiracleProducts.com and his books. He also wrote that people can set up an appointment with him. 
  • In a post headlined “What Can I Do to Prevent or Reverse the Symptoms of the ‘Corona Effect’ in 3 to 5 Days?” published on April 10, Young touted products sold at pHMiracleProducts.com and suggested people schedule a consultation with him. 

Young also frequently posts on his Facebook page about the coronavirus. Here are just five of the numerous examples on his page: 

  • On March 18, Young posted a version of his “The Cause and the Cure for Corona” piece that promoted his services. 
  • On March 18, Young wrote “Is There a Way to Prevent or Reverse the ‘Corona Effect’?” and linked to a piece that touted products sold at pHMiracleProducts.com as the answer to the coronavirus. 
  • On April 3, Young wrote “The Truth About Corona and How To Prevent and/or Reverse the 'Corona Effect'” and then linked to numerous pieces of content on his website and directed readers to products sold at pHMiracleProducts.com
  • On April 7, Young linked to a post about how “to prevent or reverse the Symptoms of the ‘Corona Effect’ in 3 to 5 days” and wrote: “Have a personal consultation with Dr. Robert O Young and get started NOW on improved health, energy, vitality and fitness. Book a consultation today.” 
  • On May 19, Young promoted a long list of links to “scientific articles written by Dr. Young that will be helpful in understanding that disease is born in us and from us.” The list included links to posts on his site touting products sold at pHMiracleProducts.com and his services as solutions to the coronavirus. 

In recent months, Young has also appeared on various online shows, including on Facebook and YouTube, to discuss the coronavirus and promote his bogus theories. 

Media Matters has documented numerous people and companies that have been using the pandemic as a way to grift and scam people, especially through social media.