American officials say an Ontario woman has pleaded guilty in a scam to sell light-emitting devices by falsely claiming they could treat more than 200 medical conditions, including cancer, autism and HIV.
The U.S. Department of Justice says Irina Kossovskaia, 63, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to introduce misbranded medical devices into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead.
The department says the plea comes nearly a year after another accused, Ronald D. Weir Jr., pleaded guilty in the scheme.
Two others were also charged, though the department did not say what happened in those cases.
Officials say court documents filed in South Dakota allege Kossovskaia and her co-accused marketed and distributed devices known as the “QLaser System” by telling people the items could safely and effectively treat a range of medical conditions at home.
They say the documents allege there were no published studies to support such claims and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not approve the devices for that use.
As part of her plea agreement, Kossovskaia said she and one of her co-accused made false claims about the QLaser’s properties to mislead consumers so they would buy the devices, which cost more than $4,000 each, according to the department.
She also admitted to helping smuggle hundreds of the items out of South Dakota to her facility in upstate New York after a federal court ordered her co-accused to stop selling them, the department said.
Kossovskaia said she continued to sell QLasers until last year and funnelled tens of thousands of dollars to her co-accused, who had been ordered to refund customers for every purchase since 2001, officials said.
“Deplorable schemes involving unproven, ineffective and worthless medical devices take advantage of people who are impaired by chronic, debilitating pain and disease,” U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Dana Carter said in a statement.
“It is imperative that we continue to protect those vulnerable individuals who unknowingly fall prey to these schemes in their time of need.”
Kossovskaia faces fines and a maximum sentence of five years behind bars. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
© 2018 The Canadian Press