Utah man accused of selling silver product as COVID-19 cure arrested after 3-year search

A three-year chase for a Utah man accused of posing as a medical doctor to sell hoax cures for a variety of diseases, including COVID-19, has come to an end.

Gordon Hunter Pedersen sold a “structural alkaline silver” product online as a preventative cure for COVID-19 early in the pandemic, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah said in a statement. He also claimed in YouTube videos to be a board-certified “Anti-Aging Medical Doctor” with a Ph.D. in immunology and naturopathic medicine, according to the release, while donning a white lab coat and stethoscope in his online presence.

Utah man accused of selling silver product as COVID-19 cure arrested after 3-year search

An arrest warrant for Pedersen, 63, was issued in August 2020 after he failed to appear in federal court on an indictment. He was caught earlier this month by federal agents “during surveillance,” officials said.

The indictment charges Pedersen with mail fraud, wire fraud, and felony introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud and mislead.

Pedersen’s schemes started around 2014, according to the indictment. He sold silver products as a treatment for arthritis, diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, and, more recently, COVID-19, the indictment added. He was caught in April 2020, when the hoax treatments were shipped to a Food and Drug Administration undercover agent using an alias. 

The products were sold through his company, GP Silver LLC, and My Doctor Suggests LLC, of which he owned 25%.

Utah man accused of selling silver product as COVID-19 cure arrested after 3-year search

In a podcast interview in March 2020, Pedersen claimed his product destroyed bacteria, viruses, and yeast all at once, adding that “there is no drug that man has made that can do the same,” according to the indictment.

Pedersen is scheduled for his initial appearance at a detention hearing Tuesday. 

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Scammers exploited COVID-19 pandemic in variety of fraud schemes

During a pandemic that would go on to take more than one million lives across the nation, fraudsters took to a variety of schemes to profit off the disease, including federal COVID-19 relief fund scams, hoax vaccines, sham test sites, and more. 

In 2020, the Justice Department directed all 94 U.S. attorneys to appoint a coordinator for virus-fraud cases in their districts, as federal law enforcement agencies received tens of thousands of fraud complaints related to the pandemic. By Jan. 2021, more than 100 cases had already been prosecuted.

Last month, a church founder and his three sons stood trial at a Miami federal court for selling a bleach mixture as a medical cure. The family was accused of selling more than $1 million of a toxic “Miracle Mineral Solution,” or MMS, which they claimed could cure almost any ailment, including COVID-19, Alzheimer’s, and malaria, according to the criminal complaint.

OPERATION QUACK HACK:Florida family on trial for conspiracy: ‘Con men’ sold bleach cure for COVID, feds say

How to protect yourself from fraudsters

The Federal Trade Commission recommends the following to protect yourself from hoax medical claims around COVID-19:

  • Always talk with your doctor or healthcare professional before trying any product claiming to treat, prevent or cure coronavirus.
  • Go to verified sources for medical treatment updates like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or FDA.
  • Suspected fraud can be reported to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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