Feeds

Feds cuff 18 in $126m pharmacy bust

Follow the money

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

A bust on an illegal pharmacy that's reckoned to raked in $126m in illicit revenues from the sale of prescription pharmaceuticals has led to racketeering and related charges against 18 suspects.

A 313-count grand jury indictment, returned on July 27 and unsealed last week, alleges offences ranging from distribution and dispensing of controlled substances to mail and wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering against alleged members of the Affpower distribution network. Defendants in the case (who are yet to be named) include three doctors, two pharmacists, a credit card processor and eight affiliate website operators. Each faces the prospect of a long stretch inside and massive fines if convicted.

Between August 2004 until June 2006, the Affpower network allegedly processed 1m internet order for controlled and non-controlled prescription pharmaceuticals from customers across the US, generating more than $126m in gross revenue. "Little or no doctor review while prescribing possibly dangerous drugs" was involved in the operation, according to Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher

According to the indictment, Affpower allegedly paid licensed doctors from different states and Puerto Rico to "haphazardly" review health questionnaire answers provided by customers on the net and issue prescriptions solely on the basis of those answers. Affpower doctors were allegedly paid just $3 per review. Some reviewed hundreds of customer orders per day, inevitably leading to mistakes.

Affpower doctors allegedly issued prescriptions for pharmaceuticals "even when a customer’s answers to the health questionnaire suggested that the ordered drug could pose a danger to the customer, or that the customer did not have a medical condition for which the ordered medication was an appropriate treatment," prosecutors allege. In some cases, prescriptions were filed by unqualified member of the Affpower syndicate, and issued using the name and registration of a licensed physician.

Affpower located its administrative headquarters in Costa Rica, and its computer servers in Cyprus. It used an Israeli firm to process credit card payments and banks in Cyprus to disperse payments. Use of foreign-based agencies was part of an orchestrated bid to avoid US prosecution.

Tracing the flow of money through this illegal network was a key element in the investigation, leading to a number of arrests and seizures.

The network was brought down by a diverse task force consisting of agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Food and Drug Administration, the IRS, the FBI, and the US Postal Inspection Service. Special agents from the DEA also worked with the San Diego-based team of modern-day "Untouchables".

A DoJ statement on the case can be found here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC
And ISPs should nab 'em on our behalf
Former Bitcoin Foundation chair pleads guilty to money-laundering charge
Charlie Shrem plea deal could still get him five YEARS in chokey
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.