Back in the day when we were the Wellness Directory of Minnesota™ and then the International Wellness Directory™, we focused mainly on publishing, as you’d expect, directories. We also published a huge newsletter and a few articles on health and wellness, but our greatest contribution to the web was that our directories all had a focus, and once the hard copies were sold out, we’d put that focus on our website.
An early directory focused on Cancer and the Immune System. When we sold our last copy (or gave it away), we took the articles and put them on the web at our location, mnwelldir.org.
That’s how our Cardiovascular Wellness Articles eventually got there (and here) after we sold out all our copies.
Every journalist dreams of that scoop, that one big scoop that will throw out his chest and pop his buttons. Well, nearly every journalist. I just wanted good reliable information to pass on, and if I could find something others had overlooked, well, yes, there was a bit of pride.
For example, we scoured the internet and a few medical journals and found reference to worries that Vioxx might be causing heart disease. We then found the studies and called a few doctors we could trust, and we published, two years before the FDA officially announced, that Vioxx was causing heart disease and heart attacks.
Our next little scoop came out a year and a half before the FDA warned men that Viagra could cause blindness. But then, so could rutting like a dog, it’s been said.
One day a friend of mine came to me with a site that sold a “cancer cure,” saying “I think they’re rewriting their testimonials.” He said that the grammar in the testimonials seemed written by a foreigner. But when he checked back, the grammar had been corrected.
I thanked him, and since I had really nothing to do, I checked out the site. I figured the best way to know if the testimonials were being edited would be to find the cached pages and compare them. Sure enough, they were being edited. I took snapshots and discovered they were being edited daily. Within his pages he linked to other sites, and I went to them and checked out their testimonials. At MigrainMiracle, the testimonials hadn’t been changed. So I suspected that they might have been stolen testimonials. I started googling quotations from their testimonials and discovered that they had been stolen from “Sinus Buster’s” website.
So now I really went to work. I focused mainly on the CancerCure site, and tracked down all the doctors he posted advertising his product. Three out of four actually existed. The first one I contacted was quite busy, but when his office staff told him he’d been advertising a suspect cancer cure, he got on the phone and told me, that yes, he was Dr SoandSo, and no, he did not promote quack remedies. The other three told me the same.
The drug this guy was selling had a name, and I looked it up. Then I contacted the “real” owners of the drug and discovered that it was given out by prescription only, and that there was no over-the-counter version. In fact, there was no oral version. It was administered by IV. Then the drug company and I both got on a conference call with the FDA.
I discovered who owned all the web sites:
A r t h u r V a n m o o r
Then I discovered that the FDA websites he pointed to were also owned by him. I paid good money to have the phone number tracked down and learned it was registered to an escort agency in Florida. I even tracked down some of the people giving testimonials and they were furious. They told me that the product did nothing, that they never gave those testimonials, and that the money-back guarantee was worthless.
I really don’t know how they even sold anything, because when I called the number, the people on the other end were so brusque and rude that I was amazed they made any sales at all.
It took me less than a week to write up my investigative report. I had enough readers at the time who felt the report was too important not to share. It quickly went viral.
I sent my FDA contact a link to the page and they got back to me right after Fox News had made a three-part series on this racket. (They even interviewed me but gave me no credit for the story and never mentioned our website.) The FDA agent told me that this character was pulling in about half a million dollars a month.
And then I got a call from Vanmoor himself telling me he was going to sue me. I’d dug up enough dirt on him to know that he probably would. He was sue crazy.
The next we heard was he was indicted. And I’ll let the guy who originally passed me the story tell you what happened.
This image was taken from https://www.curezone.org/forums/fm.asp?i=1104704#i.
The investigative report he refers to is no longer on the web and neither is Vanmoor. Once he was convicted, we took down our investigative report, and I went out and got a mortgage loan because I was being sued for a million dollars.
Vanmoor had been convicted of 19 felony counts, and he was suing me for defamation of character and libel because I had called him a crook. He was suing me in Florida, so I had to hire attorneys with offices everywhere. Everyone knew we’d win the case easily, because I had called a crook a crook, and that’s not libelous. What nobody could tell me was how much it would cost me.
The case was tossed out the first day, and I was handed a bill for $60,000.00 plus change. We’d received a few thousand in support from donations. Vanmoor regularly sent me mail from Aruba with pictures of his naked girlfriend. I figured he’d just stay on the run the rest of his life. But he went back home to the Netherlands, where he was arrested and shipped to America for sentencing. Here is the press release: VANMOOR SENTENCED TO 210 MONTHS IN JAIL FOR SELLING FAKE CANCER CURE.
So that’s the story of my one big scoop. Because we were a poor non profit (but now a charity), and we weren’t on anyone’s special Christmas list, we’re still paying off this debt.
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