A man has pleaded guilty to selling fake coronavirus cure kits to people in France and the United States.
Frank Ludlow, 59, was caught by City of London Police trying to send dozens of parcels of fake remedies in a post office near his West Sussex home.
Judge William Mousley said father-of-two Ludlow contacted national governments and “took advantage of an international crisis”.
Ludlow was given a suspended 10-month sentence at Portsmouth Crown Court.
American custom officials had intercepted Ludlow’s fake kits at Los Angeles International Airport, with his “Trinity Covid-19 SARS Antipathogenic Treatment” labels attached, the court was told.
His address was also found by the officials who alerted City of London Police on 23 March.
Hours later, officers went to a post office in Petersfield, Hampshire, to ask for a description of the person who had been sending the packages.
The court heard while officers were talking to staff Ludlow walked in with more packages addressed to France, Shoreham and New York.
Prosecutor Steven Hopper said: “Mr Ludlow admitted to making the product and had been making it for 17 years.
“Despite saying his cures had had not been officially tested, Mr Ludlow told police he was confident it took out ‘all viral infections’.”
Ludlow “made elaborate claims” about wanting to make 1,000 kits a week and he sent a message to a friend saying “Thank god for Covid-19”, Mr Hopper added.
‘Say a prayer’
Ludlow admitted three medical product offences but denied fraud charges which were to lie on file, Judge Mousley said.
“You were exposing customers, attempting to bypass the regulatory body and take advantage of an international crisis” the judge told him.
Defence barrister Ben Smitten said Ludlow had spent time in custody and while in lockdown was only allowed out one hour a day.
Speaking after sentencing, Det Ch Supt Clinton Blackburn warned criminals were “preying on people’s fears and anxieties” around coronavirus.
“The kits produced by Ludlow were unlawful and untested,” he said.
“They gave false hope to vulnerable people and their families, offering no medical benefit.”
Ludlow is still facing prosecution in the United States.
US officials said people who bought the kits were instructed to “add 18 ounces of water, say a prayer, drink half of the solution, take a probiotic along with bee pollen, and then ingest the remainder of the solution”.
Between May 2017 and March 2020, Ludlow sold a connection in Utah between 300 and 400 of these “treatments” for $50 per kit, many of which she gave away, but some of which she sold for as much as $200, an affidavit stated.
Ludlow has been charged with one count of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, a felony offence that carries a maximum sentence of three years in federal prison.