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Man accused in scam blames hair transplant industry

Joe Fox blames "powerful and very jealous" forces for the grand theft and fraud charges against him.
/ Source: NBCMIAMI.com

He claimed to be a nephew of former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, but changed his name to protect himself from the Castro regime.

He once sold nine $20,000 machines touted for their ability to weigh the amount of gold in any object, then never delivered because, he said, they were stolen by "the secret police, or whoever controls the currency."

And, after arriving in Miami Beach homeless in 2007, he sold investors on a process by which the well-known natural enzyme telomerase could enter the body through yogurt enzymes, where it could reverse visible signs of aging, re-grow hair on balding people, and turn gray hair dark again.

Now 55-year-old Joseph Fox Batista sits in a Miami-Dade County jail, accused of scamming his yogurt cream investors and spending their money on a luxury apartment in the Flamingo condo on South Beach, fancy dinners, alcohol, and, one victim says, drugs.

In a jailhouse interview with the Miami Herald, Fox dismissed charges of grand theft and organized scheming to defraud as persecution from "shady forces, possibly members of the powerful and very jealous hair transplant industry."

"Obviously, I have to be paid," he told the paper. "I'm the CEO of a corporation. The CEO gets at least $100,000 a year."

Fox sold stock in his yogurt cream company well enough to rope in even a pulmonologist at Jackson South Community Hospital, who now laughs about losing $2,000 but being constantly entertained by Fox's wackily worded e-mail updates.

Shares sold for $1,000 each to at least 59 investors; altogether, the "self-taught microbiologist" is accused of misusing $380,000 that was intended to grow his company, Telogenesis Inc.

The scam was uncovered when one disgruntled investor, out $28,000, complained to Florida's Office of Financial Regulation. State investigators found that though he claimed investors' money was being spent on clinical trials, lab testing, and marketing, virtually all of it funded Fox's lifestyle.

"He had so much faith in himself. I don't even think he knows he's crazy,'' former roommate David Dobrin told the Herald. "He truly thinks he's the smartest person in the world."