CONCORD, N.H. - Mustafa Hasan Arif, 37, an individual with dual citizenship in Pakistan and the United Kingdom, was sentenced to serve six years in federal prison for his role in an extensive international wire fraud scheme, Acting United States Attorney John J. Farley announced today.
According to court documents and statements in court proceedings, Arif defrauded individuals all around the world by selling drugs that he claimed would cure many serious diseases. While in Lahore, Pakistan, Arif created, maintained, and controlled over 1,500 websites that promoted the sale of the drugs. The websites claimed that the drugs would cure and treat hundreds of diseases, many of which were incurable, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and emphysema. The websites included falsified cure rates, false clinical research, and fabricated testimonials. One series of websites fraudulently claimed that Arif’s products had shown a 90 percent cure rate in clinical trials. Other websites included links to clinical research that had not been written about the drugs on the websites, but which suggested that clinical research had been performed on the products Arif was distributing. In an effort to make customers comfortable about the products, Arif also falsely represented that the drugs were being sold by entities in Germany, Norway, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark when in fact the drugs were all being sold and shipped from Pakistan. Documents in the case show that Arif ‘s scheme generated more than $12.8 million in fraudulent sales to more than 100,000 victims.
Arif initially was arrested after he flew into New York in February 2014 on a business trip. He appeared in federal court in New York and later was transported to New Hampshire, where he has remained in custody. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud on October 11, 2016.
“The defendant’s conduct was reprehensible,” Acting U.S. Attorney Farley said. “He preyed on vulnerable individuals who were seeking to find cures for illnesses that often had no known cure. His scheme not only defrauded his victims financially but also victimized them emotionally by raising false hopes that his products could treat their serious medical conditions. Rather than providing his sick customers with remedies for their illnesses, he only caused more pain. I commend the law enforcement officers who put an end to this dangerous and heartless scheme.”
“Criminals who deceive U.S. consumers with false information and false claims about drugs can adversely affect the public’s health,” said Jeffrey J. Ebersole, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ New York Field Office. “Our office will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who take advantage of consumers in their quest for profits.”
This investigation was led by the FDA/Office of Criminal Investigations, Cybercrime Investigations Unit along with Homeland Security Investigations. Assistance during the investigation was provided by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, Portsmouth New Hampshire Police Department, the United States Consulate, Diplomatic Security Service Lagos, Nigeria office, New Zealand Ministry of Health, United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, and the Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs. The investigation was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arnold H. Huftalen and Sarah Hawkins of the FDA/Office of Chief Counsel.