I will admit, I love it when an alt-med peddler get what’s coming to them. Especially when they prey on people with an actual illness. There is nothing more despicable.
Luckily, one purveyor of woo has been ordered out of the game permanently. A Florida federal court has ordered the marketers of a bogus alcoholism “cure” to pay over $700,000 to victims of the scam. The scam was run by fake doctor Robert Douglas “Dr. Doug” Krotzer out of Jacksonville, FL.
The company — doing business as either Alcoholism Cure Corporation, Enjoy A Few, or Guilt Free Drinking — used online ads that claimed the program could cure alcoholism “while allowing alcoholics to drink socially.” It required a monthly membership and participants had to take herbal remedies while claiming scientific proof of effectiveness. Time explains how the scam worked:
The initial cost to consumers was several hundred dollars, supposedly depending on the severity of the drinking problem. But if they tried to quit the program and stop paying, consumers were also required to submit hair samples undergo expensive medical tests — supposedly to prove whether or not their drinking had been “cured” and, therefore, whether they owed money. Their credit cards were charged unauthorized fees ranging from $9,000 to $20,000.
The company’s website also claimed that customers’ information would be kept private and that they could cancel at anytime. But when members tried to cancel, they were also threatened with disclosure of their alcohol problems to employers, creditors and others, then harassed by bill collectors and threatened with lawsuits to recoup payment.
Make outrageous promises of a cure for alcoholism, then blackmail your customers when they realize they’ve been duped. Nice.
Hopefully, this ruling will stop this particular charlatan from hurting anyone else. According to the FTC, Krotzer is forever barred from treating alcoholism, and much more:
The court’s final order permanently bans the defendants from marketing or selling any treatment or cure for alcoholism, drug addiction, or any other human health-related problem. The final order also prohibits the defendants from using trade names such as “alcoholism cure” or “permanent cure,” from unauthorized billing, and from taking any further collections actions against their victims. The defendants also may not misrepresent the cost or terms of any offer they make, the professional qualifications of Krotzer or any employee, or that the company is a charity. Finally, the order requires the defendants to pay $732,480, to be used for consumer refunds, if practical.
It’s just another reminder that extraordinary claims, especially when it comes to your health, requires extraordinary proof.
Image credit: Imagens Evangélicas