Woman pleads guilty in scam to sell devices by claiming they cured cancer
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An Ontario woman has pleaded guilty in a scam to sell light-emitting devices by falsely claiming they could treat more than 200 medical conditions, including cancer, autism and HIV, U.S. court documents show.
Irina Kossovskaia, 63, pleaded guilty this week to one count of conspiracy to introduce misbranded medical devices into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead.
An agreed statement of facts filed in a South Dakota court said Kossovskaia and her co-accused marketed and distributed devices known as the "QLaser System" by telling people the items could safely and effectively treat a range of medical conditions at home.
"The QLaser's labelling falsely claimed that there was virtually no disorder or disease that the QLaser device could not potentially improve or cure," the document reads.
"These claims were false and were intended to defraud and mislead consumers. In fact, the defendant is unaware of any published clinical studies that demonstrate that the QLaser devices can safely or effectively treat any of the above conditions."
Not only were marketing materials misleading about the devices' properties, they also "falsely conveyed the impression that the QLaser device was categorically safe," the document said.
"In fact, under certain conditions, use of a QLaser could result in injury to the skin and eyes, including temporary or permanent blindness," the document said.
Kossovskaia helped smuggle hundreds of the items out of South Dakota to her facility in upstate New York after a federal court ordered her co-accused to stop selling them in 2015, the document said.
She then continued to sell QLasers, which cost between $1,300 and close to $4,300 each, until last year, for a total of $374,806 in sales after the court injunction, according to the agreed statement of facts.
Tens of thousands of dollars were then funnelled to one of her co-accused through interstate wire transfers, the document said.
"Deplorable schemes involving unproven, ineffective and worthless medical devices take advantage of people who are impaired by chronic, debilitating pain and disease," U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Dana Carter said in a statement.
"It is imperative that we continue to protect those vulnerable individuals who unknowingly fall prey to these schemes in their time of need."
Kossovskaia faces fines and a maximum sentence of five years behind bars. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
The U.S. Department of Justice said her plea came nearly a year after another accused, Ronald D. Weir Jr., pleaded guilty in the scheme.
Two others were also charged, though the department did not say what happened in those cases.