Thursday, April 8, 2010

Canadian Charged In Online Cancer Drug Scam

Karen Kleiss in an article that appeared in the March 30th edition of the Edmonton Journal and Vancouver Sun writes a piece about a Canadian man who is accused by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation of selling fake experimental cancer drug treatments via a website he operated.

The 21 year old Edmonton resident Hazim Gaber is charged with five counts of wire fraud for his role in operating www.DCAadvice .com that was reportedly selling a fake version of the experimental cancer drug dichloroacetate also know as DCA directly to patients.

According to authorities the international fraud duped dozens of desperate cancer patients around the world who came to the website after the patients discovered that in many cases they could no longer legitimately buy the experimental drug that they needed for their treatments. Court records indicate many of the victims had their cancer treatments interrupted or delayed because of Mr. Gaber’s fraudulent scheme.

The accused, Mr. Gaber, apparently operated his website and illegal operation in the home that he shared with his parents.

Highlights from Ms.Kliess’ story include:

· Edmonton police initiated an investigation on Nov. 14, 2007, after a local woman who purchased drugs from the site lodged a complaint.
· She told police she turned to the online store when she learned she could no longer buy the experimental tumor-shrinking drug from the United States. When her first shipment arrived in a spice bottle and looked nothing like the DCA she had been receiving from the United States, she went to police.
· Testing showed the white, coarse, sweet-smelling powder she had been sent was not DCA. Later analysis showed some of the shipments patients received were made up of milk sugar, artificial sweetener, starch and talcum powder.
· Investigators eventually discovered that the so-called drugs had been shipped to at least 67 customers in Canada, the U.S., Belgium, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The website claimed to have served more than 1,000 patients and recorded tumor shrinkage in 80 to 90 per cent of them.
· On June 30, 2009, the FBI laid charges against Mr. Gaber in an Arizona court and arrested him at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. He was later extradited to the U.S. and he is now in jail in Phoenix.
· On July 25, 2009, Edmonton police searched Mr. Gaber's home and found 58 drug orders and receipts for arrowroot powder, dextrose and bromelian powder. Last week, an Edmonton judge agreed to let the local police share their findings with the U.S. authorities.
· Mr. Gaber's trial is scheduled to begin June 1 in Arizona. In the United States, the maximum sentence for wire fraud is 20 years in prison.

This story appears to be a classic case of a relatively unsophisticated individual taking advantage of and preying on the frantic needs of sick with bogus drugs being peddled over the internet. His global scheme was aided by the relative anonymity and world wide access of the Internet which allowed him to market and sell his fakes to the desperately ill.

Unfortunately this tale is not an isolated occurrence but something that happens all over the world on a daily basis. This appalling crime is being perpetrated by far more sophisticated and nefarious criminals who take advantage of people’s frantic need for healthcare and kill millions each year.

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