In what can only be described as a despicable crime, two Canadians, Michael Reynolds of Toronto and John Armstrong, of Penticton, British Columbia, have been charged with promoting a worthless cancer treatment and bilking some 850 cancer patients around the world out of millions of dollars.
The treatments, which cost as much as $20,000, were marketed through seminars, brochures, telemarketing, and on the company’s website, which has now been dismantled.
The so-called cell-specific cancer treatment, or "zoetron therapy," was supposed to treat lung, breast, prostate, skin, colon, and brain cancer by targeting and eliminating cancer cells without destroying healthy ones.
Patients were placed in machines that resembled those used for MRIs. However, Mark Stainsby, acting assistant deputy commissioner with the Competition Bureau’s Ontario branch confirmed that: "We’ve had a number of experts look at the equipment, and . . . that machine can’t do any of those kinds of things that they’ve claimed,"
The former company, called CSCT, was based in Kitchener, Ontario, and Penticton, with out-patient clinics in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Switzerland, and Spain.
Authorities estimate that the company cheated unsuspecting and often desperate cancer patients out of $12.75 million from August 1996 to February 2003. Some 37 of the victims of the scam were Canadian. Many of those victimized have since died.
The two men are each charged with 10 counts of knowingly or recklessly making representations to the public that were false or misleading as well one count each for defrauding the public of more than $5,000.
Reynolds will appear in court in Toronto on Wednesday and Armstrong is scheduled to make his appearance on Thursday.
The reports of this disgraceful scheme have prompted outraged health-care activist groups to speak out. Joel Alleyne, executive director of the Canadian Health Care Anti-Fraud Association said: "To have somebody that is doing this at this time of people’s lives, preying on them both financially and . . . offering them false hope in this way, it’s just unconscionable."