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The Arizona attorney general’s office has ordered a marijuana dispensary in Phoenix to immediately stop selling a sodium chlorite solution that's been touted a virus killer and immune system booster.
While the store didn’t say the concoction cured COVID-19, the YiLo Superstore in Phoenix was hocking an “immunization stabilizer tincture” that could be mixed with water “should you come down with a life-threatening virus.”
The store also advertised the solution on its website under the headings “CoronaV instructions” and “a word on Coronavirus,” according to a report in the Arizona Republic.
The store on Friday was handed a cease-and-desist order by the state’s attorney general’s office and warned that if it did not stop selling the concoction and take down their ads, it could face a fine of up to $10,000.
“In the absence of scientific evidence, an advertisement suggesting that a product could provide immunization against COVID-19 creates a misrepresentation and a false promise of a medical preventative or cure,” the AG's senior litigation counsel wrote in the order.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went further: “Exploiting vulnerable patients' health concerns by selling fake cures or treatments for a serious disease is wrong.”
As the coronavirus and its accompanying fears spread across the country, so have people trying to take advantage of the crisis.
New York officials recently ordered the Jim Bakker television show to stop marketing colloidal silver products. Trump himself falsely suggested a drug typically used to treat malaria patients had been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, police in Bowie, Md. are investigating reports of a man wearing an orange vest and blue surgical mask who approached people at two homes claiming to be inspecting for coronavirus. He actually entered one home before a resident confronted him. A similar scam was sweeping through Germany.
Marketing schemers have quickly pivoted to offering “senior care packages” that include hand sanitizer or even a purported vaccine, which doesn't exist. Some falsely claim that Trump has ordered that seniors get tested.
It's all a trick to get personal information that can be used to bill federal and state health programs, health officials said.
“It's a straight-up ruse to get your Medicare number or your Social Security number under the guise of having a test kit or a sanitary kit sent to you,” said Christian Schrank, the assistant inspector general for investigations at Health and Human Services.
In the U.S., the Justice Department created a central fraud hotline (1-866-720-5721 or [email protected]) and has ordered U.S. attorneys to appoint special coronavirus fraud coordinators.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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