Home News Stories 2005 April A Cautionary Tale: Cancer Research Scams

A Cautionary Tale: Cancer Research Scams

A Cautionary Tale
Beware of Cancer Research Scams

04/13/05

Human shadow behind glass vials

Most all of us have been there: a beloved wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, son, or dear friend is diagnosed with cancer. We know the treatment is painful and the cure, chancy. We hate the thought of the suffering ahead. What we want more than anything is a breakthrough—a cure that will also protect our loved ones from debilitating side effects.

And then we hear about a revolutionary cancer research project that sounds completely on the up and up...it just needs financial backing.

Seductive? You bet. Understandably, people fall for it like a ton of bricks.

Take a recent case out of our Jacksonville office:

A woman claiming to have a master’s degree in clinical nutrition was successfully marketing a full-body “electrotherapy cancer machine” across the United States.

The wind up: She said it was a breakthrough development by a London-based team of doctors, lab technicians, and physicists from the combined research fields of electromagnetic field therapy, radio frequency therapy, crystal healing therapy, and “human energy” healing.

The pitch: The machine had been tested on local cancer patients in London who were now cured, and a European company had promised to buy the machine for millions of dollars. Money was needed to complete the project...and the return on investors’ money would be at least 50% and likely much more.

The foul: Thanks to an alert local bank investigator who was suspicious of an account suddenly receiving massive numbers of wire transfers in 2003, our Jacksonville office was contacted. We opened a case and turned two undercover agents into wannabe investors. It was just a matter of time before a joint investigation with our local Florida police partners turned up hard evidence that the full-body “electrotherapy cancer machine” was a complete fraud...to the tune of $2.5 million illegally raked in between 1997 and 2003.

Game over: In mid-2004, investigators had enough evidence for indictments on wire fraud charges. With our police partners—the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana—we arrested two subjects. Trials are coming up shortly.

Lessons learned: We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: If it sounds too good to be true, it IS too good to be true. Whether it’s a miracle cure or a miracle return on investment that interests you, please first go down our checklist on how to avoid these classic “advance fee scams”.

Photo courtesy of the National Cancer Institute