Coronavirus: Man who made £12,000 selling fake COVID-19 test kits that cost £1 to make is sentenced
9 July 2020, 14:37 | Updated: 9 July 2020, 16:46
A man has been sentenced after he admitted to making and selling fake coronavirus test kits.
Frank Ludlow, 59, made around £12,000 from selling the false kits online to people around the world.
They went for between £1 and £100, but only cost him £1 to make.
The kits contained hydrogen peroxide concentration and potassium thiocyanate - two chemicals that are extremely harmful should the user be instructed to wash and rinse their mouth with them.
They also contained ascorbic acid, an unknown enzyme and bee pollen.
His operation first came to light when the US Customs and Border Protection Agency in Los Angeles intercepted a package on 18 March, which contained 60 COVID-19 treatment kits labelled as "Anti-Pathogenic treatment".
They had been sent from the UK.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined the product to be an unapproved drug, based on the labelling and directions for use, and alerted the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Following a joint investigation by City of London Police, the FDA and MHRA, Ludlow was arrested on 20 March.
He was snared in a post office by officers while he was attempting to send 60 of his kits to France, the US, and other parts of the UK.
During a search of Ludlow's home address in Chichester, officers from City of London Police discovered 300 more treatment kits and an estimated 20 litres of chemicals used in their production.
Ludlow pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to supply an unauthorised medicinal product, possessing an unauthorised medicinal product and assembling an unauthorised product at Portsmouth Crown Court on Thursday.
He has been handed a ten months suspended sentence and 170 hours unpaid work.
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Detective Chief Superintendent Clinton Blackburn, from the City of London Police, said: "Criminals are preying on people's fears and anxieties, using the coronavirus outbreak to take their money.
"The kits produced by Ludlow were unlawful and untested.
"They gave false hope to vulnerable people and their families, offering no medical benefit. This raises the possibility that people with COVID could believe they were cured, thereby inadvertently exposing others to infection."
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you live in Scotland, report it directly to Police Scotland by calling 101