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Utah man posing as doctor selling fake COVID-19 cure arrested after three-year manhunt

Cybercriminals exploit coronavirus fears
Cybercriminals take advantage of coronavirus fears 02:51

A 63-year-old man was arrested in Utah years after he was charged with crimes related to selling a fake cure for the coronavirus, officials said Monday. 

According to court documents, Gordon Hunter Pedersen, 63, sold a "structural alkaline silver" product online that he allegedly said "resonates or vibrates at a frequency that destroys the membrane of the (COVID-19) virus, making the virus incapable" of infecting someone. Pedersen also claimed to be an "anti-aging medical doctor" with PhD degrees in immunology and naturopathic medicine, according to the documents. 

A civil restraining order issued in 2020 stopped Pedersen's ability to sell the products, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release from that year. He was also indicted in federal court on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and felony introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud and mislead, the United State's Attorney's Office District of Utah said in a news release

Gordon Hunter Pedersen holds up his fake COVID-19 cure.  U.S. Attorney's Office District of Utah

A warrant for Pedersen's arrest was issued in August 2020, when he failed to appear in federal court for the indictment. A three-year manhunt ensued, ending this summer when Pedersen was spotted by federal agents on July 5, 2023. 

He was arrested in Utah County, officials said. The news release, shared on Monday, did not say when he was arrested or how he was taken into custody. 

Pedersen, of Cedar Hills, Utah, is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on Tuesday afternoon. 

Others who sold fake coronavirus cures have also faced charges. 

In July 2023, a Florida man and his three sons were convicted of using their online church to sell a toxic industrial bleach as a fake COVID-19 cure. The four men were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the United States and deliver misbranded drugs, according to court records, and will be sentenced in October. 

In 2021, the U.S. Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to prevent and prosecute such frauds. 

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