After she was found guilty on Tuesday of four counts of defrauding investors, the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes is complete.
Holmes was the former CEO and founder of Theranos, a failed blood-testing startup, founded in 2003. Theranos was supposed to be revolutionary in disease diagnosis. The company promised that with its new technology, it could test just a few drops of blood and detect conditions such as cancer and diabetes, according to the BBC.
At its peak, Theranos was even valued at $10 billion, Investopedia reported.
In July of 2015, then-Vice President Joe Biden was another prominent figure to praise Holmes and Theranos.
“Talk about being inspired. This is inspiration. It is amazing to me, Elizabeth, what you’ve been able to do,” Biden said, according to a news release at the time.
There was one problem though. Holmes and Theranos’ president Ramesh Balwani never actually demonstrated the technological breakthrough they kept touting.
Just a few months after Biden gushed over Holmes, The Wall Street Journal published an exposé that revealed how Holmes misled investors and patients. By 2018, Theranos had completely collapsed.
Holmes and Balwani were ultimately charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for “‘an elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance’ to raise more than $700 million from investors,” as NPR reported.
The four charges that Holmes was found guilty of were one count of conspiracy to defraud investors and three wire fraud counts. She now faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as a fine of $250,000 and restitution for all four counts.
Fraud on this scale is spectacularly embarrassing for the whole nation and the many officials and investors that believed Theranos was the future of medicine.
It is even worse that now-President Biden was one of the strong public voices praising Holmes, just months before the beginning of her downfall. Unfortunately, Biden was not the only prominent person that was connected to Theranos.
Former State Secretary Henry Kissinger, former Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention William Foege, were all on the board of Theranos, as The Washington Post reported.
Besides the sheer amount of money that Holmes raised for her scheme, the fact that famous national leaders hopped on board should be causing the U.S. to blush.
It’s still unclear why Holmes continued to gamble for so many years on technology that she knew didn’t work.
But, though Theranos never actually produced anything, Holmes worked in the dark for years on what was supposed to be brilliant innovation, and just by that, she raised millions in funding.
Even through 2014, Holmes never actually explained or publicized how Theranos’ technology worked. Later, it was discovered that the technology had never even been submitted for peer review in medical journals, as Investopedia reported.
Yet, despite these facts, Biden touted Theranos in 2015 and then proclaimed how it was going to completely change medicine.
“This is the laboratory of the future,” Biden said, according to the news release. “What’s most impressive to me is you’re not only making these lab tests more accessible, you’re charging historically low prices, which is a small fraction of what is charged now, while maintaining the highest standards, and empowering people whether they live in the barrio or a mansion, putting them in a position to help take control of their own health.”
Now Holmes is facing prison. But, for over 10 years, she managed to pull off one of the biggest dupes in history.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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