March 15, 2006
Selling Snake Oil on the Internet
Things haven't changed all that much since traveling salesmen peddled snake oil and other concoctions as cures for a variety of illnesses, although the internet makes it much easier to reach a wider audience than a wagon (or car). The same claims of a miracle cure continue to lure desperate buyers, and the salesmen continue to run into trouble with the law, as evidenced by the indictment in the Southern District of Florida of Arthur Vanmoor on conspiracy, fraud, and drug violations. According to a press release (here):
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 www.breastcancercure.com and www.lungcancercure.org. 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 United States Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) for use on human beings, when, in fact, they were not.
The Indictment further alleges that 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.” Additionally, the Indictment states that 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.
If it's on the internet, it's gotta be true . . . right? The Pierre Salinger Syndrome certainly lives on for those who peddle miracles. (ph)
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