Feds Charges First Person Under Covid19 Scam Laws

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A St. Louis-based chiropractor became the first person charged under a new federal law aimed at protecting Americans from fraudulent COVID-19 claims.

Eric Nepute was charged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act for making false marketing claims. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

In April 2020, Nepute’s business, Quickwork LLC, began advertising and selling products under the trade name “Wellness Warrior.” Wellness Warrior operates and maintains a Facebook page along with at least 11 websites. Soon, Nepute was using these platforms to advertise, market, distribute, and sell vitamin D and zinc products as drugs that could treat or prevent COVID-19.

According to the FTC, there is no reliable scientific evidence that Vitamin D protects against, treats, or prevents COVID-19.1 Despite having no valid evidence for such claims, Nepute advertised and marketed his Vitamin D and zinc products in this way, violating Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.2

“The laws under which Eric Nepute is being charged really are aimed at protecting consumers,” Margaret J. Finerty, JD, partner at Getnick & Getnick LLP, tells Verywell. Under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act, for the duration of the public health emergency, it is unlawful for any person, partnership, or corporation to engage in deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce associated with the treatment, cure, prevention, and diagnosis of COVID-19.2

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