A 22-year-old Canadian is facing a long prison term in the US for selling fake cancer drugs online.
Hazim Gaber of Edmonton has already pleaded guilty to the charges against him in a federal court in Phoenix, Airzona. He had been palming off gullible and desperate customers with some white powder as dichloroacetate (DCA).
The drug is not approved for use in the United States, or Canada, but is highly sought after by cancer patients throughout the world after a 2007 report showed that DCA caused regression in several cancers, including lung cancer, breast cancer, and cancerous brain tumors.
The white, powdery substance that Gaber was hawking was only starch, dextrin, dextrose or lactose, but it contained no DCA, laboratory tests showed.
Gaber charged victims in the United States, Canada, Belgium, Holland, and Great Britain $23.68 for 10 grams of the bunk DCA, $45.52 for 20 grams, or $110.27 for 100 grams, plus shipping.
Gaber, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, sold the "drug" on a Web site he created called DCAdvice.com.
Gaber was arrested on July 25, 2009, in Frankfurt, Germany, and extradited to Phoenix because a complaint against him originated in Arizona.
He is charged with five counts of wire fraud and each charge of wire fraud can lead to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
"According to court documents, along with the counterfeit DCA, the packages also contained a fraudulent certificate of analysis from a fictitious laboratory and instructions on how to dilute and ingest the bogus DCA," the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
Gaber's website claimed that it was the only legal supplier of the drug and that it had the support of the University of Alberta, whose researchers had made the breakthrough with DCA.
"Several victims reported during interviews that their cancer treatment was interrupted or delayed because of Gaber's fraudulent scheme," court documents said.
Edmonton police first became aware of Gaber in November 2007 after a local woman complained that the DCA she had purchased online came in a spice bottle and looked nothing like DCA she had previously used.
Numerous similar complaints were lodged elsewhere in Canada, as well as the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Police linked the bogus cancer treatment scam to Gaber by tracing the delivered packages to his Edmonton address. Investigators then used search warrants to get his PayPal records and were able to show the website and domain names had been set up by him in 2007.
The court documents say the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspections Services began investigating Gaber about the bogus cancer drug scheme in June 2008 and their investigations also revealed that websites controlled by him were allegedly illegally selling copy-righted software.
The July raid on Gaber's home found DCA-related stuff, including records of 58 orders for the drug and receipts for dextrose, bromelain powder and arrowroot powder, Canadian newspapers reported.
Following developments in the Gaber case, Alberta researcher Dr. Evangelos Michelakis cautioned people against trying to buy the drug online.