UK police charge man with making and selling fake coronavirus treatment kits

LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) - British police said on Saturday they had charged a man with making counterfeit treatment kits for coronavirus, and sending them across the world.

Frank Ludlow, 59, of West Sussex, southern England, was arrested on Friday and has been charged with one count of fraud by false representation, one count of possession of articles for use in fraud, and one count of unlawfully manufacturing a medicinal product.

He appeared at Brighton Magistrates Court and was remanded in custody until April 20.

Ludlow’s arrest followed a joint investigation by the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

During a search of Ludlow’s home, police found 300 more treatment kits and an estimated 20 litres of chemicals used in the production of the fake kits.

“The kits are thought to contain potassium thiocyanate and hydrogen peroxide, both of which are extremely harmful chemicals when the user is instructed to wash and rinse their mouth with them,” the police said.

The case originated when officers with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency in Los Angeles intercepted a package on March 18 that was sent from the UK and contained 60 separate COVID-19 treatment kits labelled as “Anti-Pathogenic treatment”.

The U.S. FDA determined the product to be an unapproved drug and alerted the MHRA in the UK. (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Daniel Wallis)