A 22-year-old Canadian man pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona, to selling fake cancer drugs over the Internet.
Hazim Gaber, a resident of Edmonton, Canada, was indicted last year on five counts of wire fraud, according to the Department of Justice. He was arrested in Germany in 2009 and extradited to the U.S.
At his plea hearing, Gaber acknowledged selling what he claimed was the experimental cancer drug sodium dichloroacetate, or DCA, to at least 65 people in the Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S.
Court documents state that "DCA is an odorless, inexpensive, relatively non-toxic experimental cancer drug that is highly sought after by cancer patients."
DCA is not approved by the FDA and is only available to patents in clinical trials.
What Gaber provided to customers, however, was not DCA. It was, he acknowledged, various common white powdery substances such as starch, dextrin, dextrose, or lactose.
A Department of Justice spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for information about the extent to which the cancer patients who took the fake DCA suffered harm as a result of being duped.
Gaber also acknowledged that his Web site, DCAdvice.com, included false claims that the site was the only lawful supplier of DCA and that the site was affiliated with the University of Alberta.
The doctor who published the 2007 study that suggested DCA's effectiveness as a cancer treatment, Evangelos Michelakis, is a professor in the University's Department of Medicine.
In his plea, Gaber also admitted to selling more than 800 copies of pirated business software.
Gaber faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each count of wire fraud. His sentencing is scheduled for August 2.