UK, US enforcements as fake coronavirus products proliferate

A UK man has been charged with selling counterfeit COVID-19 treatment kits to customers around the world, soon after reports of fake kits being seized in the US and other countries.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice has just filed a restraining order against a website it says is fraudulently offering a coronavirus vaccine for sales, the first enforcement action against COVID-19 fraud in the US.

UK arrest follows US seizure

The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) arrested Frank Ludlow (59) at a post office near his home address in West Sussex as he was in the process of sending out dozens of the coronavirus kits to people in the UK as well as in France and the US.

He was charged on March 21 with one count of fraud by false representation, one count of possession of articles for use in fraud, and one count of unlawfully manufacturing a medicinal product, and has been remanded in custody until April 20.

There are no approved drugs or vaccines for the COVID-19 virus, and the FDA has repeatedly warned the public about purchasing any product that claims to be able to treat or prevent infection.

The case was a direct result of investigations that followed the seizure of counterfeit kits in Los Angeles last week, shortly after another shipment of fake diagnostics was also intercepted. Meanwhile another shipment of counterfeit diagnostics - also from the UK - were discovered at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport last week.

The COVID-19 treatment kits were labelled as ‘Anti-Pathogenic treatment’ are thought to contain potassium thiocyanate and hydrogen peroxide, both of which are extremely harmful chemicals when the user is instructed to wash and rinse their mouth with them, according to a statement from PIPCU.

Police are awaiting the results of forensic testing on the kits to determine exactly how dangerous they are, it adds.

During a search of Ludlow’s home, 300 more treatment kits and an estimated 20 litres of chemicals used in the production of the fake kits, were discovered.

“Fraudsters are constantly looking for ways in which they can exploit people, including using global emergencies, and times of uncertainty for many, to defraud people out of their money,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Clinton Blackburn, from the City of London of Police.

“While police have taken swift action to arrest this individual, we believe some of these kits may still be in circulation,” he added. “If you have purchased one of these kits, it’s important you do not use it.”

US wire fraud scheme

Meanwhile, the DoJ enforcement action filed in Austin, Texas, yesterday is against the operators of the website “”.

Information published on the website claimed to offer access to World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine kits in exchange for a shipping charge of $4.95, which consumers would pay by entering their credit card information.

The registrar of the fraudulent website has been asked to immediately take action to block public access to it, and at the time of writing the URL was defunct.“The [DoJ] will not tolerate criminal exploitation of this national emergency for personal gain,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt.

“We will use every resource at the government’s disposal to act quickly to shut down these most despicable of scammers, whether they are defrauding consumers, committing identity theft, or delivering malware.”

The Department of Justice recommends that Americans to take the following precautionary measures to protect themselves from known and emerging scams related to COVID-19:

  • Independently verify the identity of any company, charity, or individual that contacts you regarding COVID-19.

  • Check the websites and email addresses offering information, products, or services related to COVID-19. Be aware that scammers often employ addresses that differ only slightly from those belonging to the entities they are impersonating. For example, they might use “” or “” instead of “”

  • Be wary of unsolicited emails offering information, supplies, or treatment for COVID-19 or requesting your personal information for medical purposes. Legitimate health authorities will not contact the general public this way.

  • Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources. Doing so could download a virus onto your computer or device.

  • Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is operating and up to date.

  • Ignore offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure, or treatment. Remember, if a vaccine becomes available, you won’t hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad, or unsolicited sales pitch.

  • Check online reviews of any company offering COVID-19 products or supplies. Avoid companies whose customers have complained about not receiving items.

  • Research any charities or crowdfunding sites soliciting donations in connection with COVID-19 before giving any donation. Remember, an organization may not be legitimate even if it uses words like “CDC” or “government” in its name or has reputable looking seals or logos on its materials. For online resources on donating wisely, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.

  • Be wary of any business, charity, or individual requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail. Don’t send money through any of these channels.

  • Be cautious of “investment opportunities” tied to COVID-19, especially those based on claims that a small company’s products or services can help stop the virus. If you decide to invest, carefully research the investment beforehand. For information on how to avoid investment fraud, visit the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top