As the coronavirus pandemic began spreading at an increasing and worrying rate last year, so too did the unsubstantiated claims for a cure come rushing in from countries across the world.
From consuming large amounts of garlic to snorting cocaine, all kinds of novel and unscientific remedies proliferated as to how the virus could be prevented, treated and even cured.
Indeed, none of these remedies had displayed any assurances or verification from authorities or medical experts.
But this wasn’t enough to stop the false cures being advertised and peddled through undercover networks.
Over a year later, people have managed not only to come up with false remedies to prevent the virus, but also obtain financial advantage from it in a market driven by fear and anxiety.
One such case that recently made headlines was a father and his three sons from the United States who were arrested for allegedly peddling $1 million of industrial-grade bleach as a “COVID-19 cure”.
According to news reports, Mark Grenon, 62, and sons Jonathan, 34, Joseph 32, and Jordan 26, were all charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and two of criminal contempt.
Specifically, they are accused of manufacturing, promoting and selling an emulsion by the name of “Miracle Mineral Solution”, which consisted of sodium chlorite and water.
When ingested, the concoction transformed into chlorine dioxide, which is often used for bleaching textiles, paper and pulp.
Reports claimed the father and sons earned more than $1 million after selling thousands of bottles of the bleach solution under an entity that they are believed to have created themselves, called “Genesis II Church of Health and Healing”.
It is understood the father was the archbishop of Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, in Bradenton, Florida.
Now, after the family’s involvement in the scheme, they are all facing life imprisonment for the fraudulent marketing offence if they are convicted.
In fact, the family has been accused of retailing the bleach as a cure for not just for Covid-19, but also for cancer, autism, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other medical conditions.
US Food and Drug Administration Releases Warning to People Urging Not to Drink So-Called “Miracle” Mixture
Against the false claims of the bleach solution being able to cure COVID, the US Food and Drug
Administration was so concerned by the scheme that is was forced to release a warning to citizens urging them not to drink the so-called “Miracle Mineral Solution” mixture.
“If you’re drinking ‘Miracle’ or ‘Master’ Mineral Solution or other sodium chlorite products, stop now. The US Food and Drug Administration has received many reports that these products, sold online as ‘treatments’, have made consumers sick,” the statement read.
The body added that drinking the chlorine dioxide solution could bring on a host of severe reactions, including “nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and symptoms of severe dehydration”.
The statement went on to say, “The Food and Drug Administration has received reports of consumers who have suffered from severe vomiting, severe diarrhoea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration, and acute liver failure after drinking these products”.
Meanwhile, court documents claim the Grenon family were making around $32,000 a month selling the cure prior to Covid-19 arriving in the United States, however, once the pandemic hit, they saw their orders soar, resulting in earnings surpassing $132,000 a month.
It is understood prosecutors have also claimed the entity Genesis II Church of Health and Healing was created specifically to avoid regulation of Miracle Mineral Solution and is not a religious church.
A raid on the Grenon family’s Bradenton property – which was disguised as a church – resulted in police removing dozens of chemical drums, 10,00lbs of sodium nitrate and thousands of bottles of Miracle Mineral Solution.
Intention to Defraud by False or Misleading Statement Charges in NSW
Back home, It is against the law to defraud by false or misleading statement.
If you are in NSW, the legislation for this offence is reflected in section 192G of the Crimes Act 1900, which prescribes a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
Section 192G states that a person who dishonestly makes or publishes, or concurs in making or publishing, any statement that is false or misleading in a material particular with the intention of obtaining property belonging to another or obtaining a financial advantage or causing a financial disadvantage, is guilty of an offence.
It should be noted that the false or misleading statement does not necessarily have to be in writing – for example, where the statement is verbal you can still be guilty of an offence.
By Sahar Adatia.
Image credit: Irina Annarumma.