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Fraudulent Sites Closed, Owner Indicted

Background
For several months, I've been following a group of fraudulent Web sites selling "cures" for cancer, Migraine disease, flu, and more. (see Online Medical Frauds and Fake Cures: What's Going On?) There were approximately 20 sites such as cancercure.org, breastcancercure.com, migrainecure.com, and migrainemiracle.com. These sites were owned by Arthur Vanmoor, who initially operated under the name Flu Fighter Laboratories. Vanmoor also operated a Web site with a domain name to make viewers think it was an FDA site. The fake cure sites would link to the fake FDA site, making unsuspecting site visitors think his products were approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

On December 22, 2005, the U.S. Attorney’s Office obtained a civil temporary restraining order against Vanmoor and others prohibiting the continued promotion, advertisement, production, shipment, and/or sale of "Cancer Control," "Migraine Miracle," "Flu Fighter," and any other non-FDA-approved drugs in interstate commerce. The judge who issued the restraining order also ordered that the Web sites be shut down. The judge also ordered the Web sites closed, but Vanmoor continued to operate them as well as the phone lines for ordering the products. Following the Web site domain registrations because almost game-like. The name of the company and even the country in which the sites were registered changed often. The sites went off-line, and where the Web server information should have been, one would see, "NS1.SUSPENDED-FOR.SPAM-AND-ABUSE.COM." The next day, the sites would be back online -- until someone alerted their Web host, and the sites would come down again, only to repeat the cycle.

Progress
On March 14, a Fort Lauderdale grand jury indicted Arthur Vanmoor on multiple charges:

  • Conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”) violations, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

  • Substantive charges of mail and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 1343, respectively.

  • FDCA violations under Title 21, United States Code, Sections 331(b), 352(a), (f), and (I), and 333(a)(2), and Title 21, United States Code, Sections 331(d), 355(a), and 333(a)(2).

Key points alleged in the indictment include:

  • Vanmoor and his co-conspirators sold fake cures for cancer, Migraines, influenza, and cramps over the Internet using approximately twenty websites with names such as breastcancercure.com, cancercure.org, and migrainecure.com.
  • Vanmoor and his co-conspirators used these websites to promote his products "Cancer Control," "Migraine Miracle," "Flu Fighter," and "Cramps Comforter" as being "guaranteed cures" and approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) for use on human beings, when, in fact, they were not.
  • Vanmoor arranged for the websites to contain "Bogus articles from bogus doctors, . . . pictures of people dressed like doctors holding the products ["Cancer Control," "Migraine Miracle," "Flu Fighter," and "Cramps Comforter"], . . . [and] bogus testimonials."
  • Vanmoor promoted his products on his websites under the names of FDA-approved drugs such as Pfizer’s Camptosar®. In reality, his products were neither such FDA-approved drugs, nor did they contain significant amounts, if any, of the active ingredients of these FDA-approved drugs.
  • Vanmoor nevertheless continued to maintain his websites and calling lines in violation of the temporary restraining order issued on December 22, 2005.

If convicted of the conspiracy count, defendant Vanmoor faces a maximum statutory term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum statutory fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory term of imprisonment and fine for each of the mail and wire fraud counts is twenty years and $250,000, respectively. The maximum statutory term of imprisonment and fine for each FDCA violation is three years and $250,000, respectively.

Mr. R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, commended the investigative efforts of the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigation and the FBI. The criminal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robin S. Rosenbaum and Special Assistant Jason S. Hadges. Assistant United States Attorney Robert Nicholson is handling the civil case.

Summary
It took time and determination, but it appears that the "good guys" win on this one. Obviously, migrainecure.com, migrainemiracle.com, and the product "Migraine Miracle" were of major concern to me. However, Vanmoor's cancer "cure" sites and products were, if possible, even more heinous. He and his cohorts were victimizing patients with potentially fatal diseases simply to make money. There is no punishment, civil or criminal, that is sufficient. It may take years for this case to work its way through the courts, but at least it appears that Vanmoor is out of business. Hopefully, he won't find a way to start again.
 

_____________
Resources:

Press release, "ARTHUR VANMOOR INDICTED FOR SELLING FAKE CANCER CURE." U.S. Department of Justice. R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. March 14, 2006.

"South Florida Man Indicted For Selling Fake Cancer Cure." North Country Gazette. March 15, 2006.
 

 

Published March 25, 2006
© Teri Robert

 

 
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