NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With the death toll from the Ebola virus now having topped 4,000 people – including one fatality in the U.S. – consumer advocates have been warning of scams that take advantage of people’s fears about the disease.
As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, you may have seen a YouTube-based program featuring a woman who identifies herself as Dr. Rima Laibow. She warns that Ebola amounts to a genocide, but added that there is something the public can buy to protect them.
While warning, “If you think (Ebola) isn’t going to spread, think again,” Laibow offers Nano Silver, which she sells through her Natural Solutions Foundation.
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission sent out a letter of warning that Laibow cannot claim her products as anything other than nutritional supplements — and she certainly cannot claim the products are a cure for Ebola.
“They know that there’s fear. They know there is anxiety,” said Better Business Bureau President Claire Rosenzweig.
And with Ebola in the news more and more, the federal government has warned that scammers are going online with unsubstantiated claims about products that are pushed as protections, and even cures.
“All they’re doing is getting you to catch the bait so they can hook you into buying their product,” Rosenzweig said.
She said the Better Business Bureau and other agencies are getting complaints about products, such as a dietary supplement powder containing a fruit called Garcinia Cambogia, and an organic substance called Monolaurin — both marketed with claims they fight a virus that currently has no FDA-approved vaccine or cure.
CBS 2 tried to find Doctor Laibow to ask about her “silver cure.”
Her rural Newton, New Jersey address is also the official address for National Solutions Foundation. At the end of the driveway behind the house, a young man answered the door and said Dr. Laibow was out of the country.
But Laibow is still doing her show and vowing to fight back.
“They’re asking us to participate in genocide,” Laibow says in her YouTube videos. “We say we will mitigate this; we will not be suppressed.”
Rosenzweig said consumers need to stick to verified claims.
“If and when there is a cure or a vaccine, believe me, it will be all over the news in a good way,” she said.
The FDA is also warning against what it calls fraudulent Ebola prevention kits. They run for about $20 each online, and they come with masks, disinfectant sprays, and containment bags
The FDA said what the buyer really gets from the kits is a false sense of security.
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