February 20, 2009

Man convicted of selling quack device

A San Diego man has been found guilty of selling an electronic device that he claimed could cure serious diseases with electrical impulses.

Federal prosecutors said James Folsom, 68, sold about 9,000 of the devices during a decade, grossing as much as $8 million, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The product names he used included NatureTronics, AstroPulse, BioSolutions, Energy Wellness and Global Wellness.

Folsom faces up to 140 years in prison and large fines when he is sentenced. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Pierson said the case is the largest involving a quack cure she has seen in her 20-year career as a prosecutor.

Prosecutors said Folsom told buyers the device was used for investigative purposes, suggesting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was studying it. An FDA official testified during the trial he never submitted it for approval.

Folsom said in promotional material the device was based on the work of Royal Raymond Rife of San Diego. Rife, in the 1930s, argued that diseased cells could be destroyed by targeted electrical impulses -- a contention that was never accepted by medical researchers.