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Brit ‘sold fake coronavirus cure with “harmful chemicals” to Americans for £40’

A British man accused of smuggling a fake coronavirus cure into the US to cash in on the crisis faces up to three years in an American prison if convicted.

Frank Richard Ludlow, of West Sussex, allegedly shipped mislabelled and "extremely harmful" drugs from the UK, and claimed they were a treatment for Covid-19.

American authorities have charged the 59-year-old - who was arrested by British police as part of a joint operation - with one count of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.

Ludlow, who is not a doctor, allegedly sent kits labelled "Trinity COVID-19 SARS Antipathogenic Treatment" to customers in California and Utah, and prosecutors say he put lives at risk "by peddling unapproved drugs".

US authorities allege the Brit started repackaging existing "Trinity Remedy" kits in February or March as the coronavirus crisis worsened.

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The kits were not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Covid-19 or for any other use.

He has had contact with a customer in Utah since May 2017, when he sold her "Trinity Remedy" as a "miracle cure" for her severe medical issues, prosecutors allege.

This "cure" – later rebranded as "Trinity Mind, Body & Soul" – allegedly contained vitamin C, an enzyme mix, potassium thiocyanate, and hydrogen peroxide.

Consumers were instructed to add 18 ounces of water, say a prayer, drink half of the solution, take a probiotic along with bee pollen, and then ingest the remainder of the solution, said prosecutors.

Between May 2017 and March 2020, Ludlow allegedly sold up to 400 of the "treatments" for $50 (£40) per kit to the woman, who sold some for as much as $200 (£160) and gave others away.

In recent weeks, the Brit began selling kits named "Trinity COVID-19 SARS Antipathogenic Treatment with the same ingredients, it is claimed.

The counterfeit kits were shipped from the UK to the woman in Ogden, Utah, her parents' home in Draper, Utah, and her boyfriend's home in Forestville, California, according to prosecutors.

All of the kits were intercepted by federal officers before they could reach their destinations.

On March 20, City of London Police arrested Ludlow in a post office close to his home in West Sussex during a joint operation with US authorities.

He was allegedly attempting to ship 60 fake treatments to France, the US and places in the UK.

An additional 300 kits and about 20 litres of chemicals used to produce them were found during a raid at his home, it is claimed.

A City of London Police spokesperson said: "The kits 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.

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

Ludlow was charged the following day 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.

City of London Police said the probe began on March 18 with US Customs and Border Protection Agency officers in Los Angeles intercepted a package containing 60 fake treatment kits.

After charging Ludlow on Wednesday, Nick Hanna, a US attorney for the Central District of California, said: "Hucksters who hawk ‘treatments' for this deadly disease put consumers' lives at risk by peddling unapproved drugs.

"We are aggressively investigating all types of criminal activity associated with the current health emergency, and anyone attempting to cheat the public during this time will face severe penalties."

Catherine Hermsen, an assistant commissioner with the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations, added: "Unproven health claims, tests, and medical products can pose serious health risks and may keep people from seeking care or delay necessary medical treatment.

"The FDA will continue to take appropriate action to protect consumers from bad actors who take advantage of a pandemic to increase their profits while jeopardizing the public health."

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