Some of you may remember my little rant against a product called Digestrol, which was marketed with the biggest pile of unadulterated tripe I have ever seen (take Digestrol now or you will need surgery to cure your IBS!). Well, the FDA discovered why it was such tripe – the company owners were criminals, and they’ve now been thrown in jail. Hurray!
The facts of the case show just how easy it is to peddle lies on the internet. Charles Thao and Tony T Pham sold almost $12 million worth of product in two years. Digestrol was just one of their products, sold through a company called Techmedica. They claimed that every pill and potion had been clinically tested, when no testing had been carried out at all. Thao has been sentenced to eight years and Pham to three years, both in federal prison without parole.
So how did they manage to con so many people? They just faked everything. This is a quote from the FDA website: “Pham admitted that he used Techmedica to repackage, sell, market, and distribute unapproved new drugs and misbranded drugs over the Internet. Websites used by Techmedica contained materially false testimonials, product information, and identification of medical professionals.”
The conmen simply made up customer testimonials and put them online against stock photos. They even made up a doctor and a nurse to sell their diabetes treatment – Dr Judy Hamilton was actually a Californian model. As was nurse Bethany Hunt.
Every single aspect of their website was garbage. No wonder they didn’t seem to know the first little thing about IBS.
So what have we learned from this little escapade? Well, if you didn’t know before, please take note now – it is phenomenally easy to lie on the internet. It costs almost nothing to buy a domain name. You read a couple of books and you’ve got the basics of html. And then you just make stuff up.
Please, please don’t buy anything, or swallow anything, or change anything in your own IBS treatment without knowing exactly why you’re doing it, and exactly who is advising you to do so. The net has made life so easy for criminals, and the only way to defeat them is to keep our wits about us.
In the meantime, let’s just be glad that these particular scumbags are now exactly where they belong.
(You can read more about the case on the FDA website here.)