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Cultists charged with fraud for selling steroid-packed cream

Mainichi Shimbun, Japan
Aug. 16, 2004 • Monday August 16, 2004

Two senior members of the AUM Shinrikyo cult, under indictment for the group’s unauthorized sales of a cream it claimed could treat atopic dermatitis, were hit Monday with fraud charges, police said.

Takashi Inoue, 36, former head of the cult’s Tokyo training hall, and Kiyoshi Nakano, 37, another cult member, were served with fresh arrest warrants accusing them of fraud.

When they sold anti-atopic dermatitis cream made in China to nine people over the 12-month period until last March, they falsely claimed that the products contained no side-effect-causing steroids, thereby defrauding them out of 185,000 yen, investigators said.

This is the first time that law enforcers have pressed fraud charges over false claims about the ingredients of pharmaceutical products sold, police said.

Ointments containing steroids can cause side effects such as infectious diseases, expansion of capillaries and glaucoma if used in an inappropriate way. In fact, some customers who bought the products have complained of side-effects allegedly caused by the cream, such as chapped skin.

The two had also placed an advertisement on their home page, falsely claiming that the cream did not contain steroids and that it could be used for babies and infants. They also lied when responding to telephone inquiries, saying that their products didn’t contain any steroids.

Inoue and Nakano are already under indictment on charges of violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law over sales of the cream.

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