NY AG Tells Alex Jones To Stop Selling Fake Coronavirus Cure

By Jack Queen
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Law360 (March 12, 2020, 9:40 PM EDT) -- The New York Attorney General on Thursday ordered Alex Jones and his online InfoWars store to stop peddling products falsely claiming to cure or treat the novel coronavirus, noting federal health officials haven't yet identified a vaccine for COVID-19.

Jones falsely claimed on his online show that items including DNA Force Plus supplements, Superblue toothpaste and Silversol products act as a "stopgate" against the virus and "kill the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range," according to a cease-and-desist letter and an accompanying announcement from the attorney general's office.

The office said it was "extremely concerned" by Jones' misrepresentations, noting the coronavirus pandemic poses serious public health risks and has families desperate for ways to protect themselves. Health officials worldwide say there is currently no medicine to treat the disease, the letter noted.

"As the coronavirus continues to pose serious risks to public health, Alex Jones has spewed outright lies and has profited off of New Yorkers' anxieties," Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Thursday. "Mr. Jones' public platform has not only given him a microphone to shout inflammatory rhetoric, but his latest mistruths are incredibly dangerous and pose a serious threat to the public health of New Yorkers and individuals across the nation."

The InfoWars store's disclaimer at the bottom of its products page — stating these products are "not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease" — was in a "miniscule font size" and unlikely to be noticed by consumers, James' office noted.

Jones, an inflammatory conspiracy theorist who has been driven from most digital platforms and sued multiple times for defamation, is the latest party to be targeted by James' office for allegedly using coronavirus fears to prey on consumers. Jones and InfoWars could not be reached for comment Thursday.

On Wednesday, James hit The Silver Edge Co. and a purported doctor in Oklahoma with similar cease-and-desists, saying their health claims violated New York's deceptive advertising laws.

The Silver Edge allegedly claimed its Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator "beats coronavirus" and that there's "clinical documentation" backing the assertion, James said.

Sherrill Sellman, a self-described naturopathic doctor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, allegedly marketed colloidal silver products as a cure for the virus and sold them on her website and on the religious television program "The Jim Bakker Show," James said.

The colloidal silver generator, which costs almost $250, was sold out as of Wednesday, an indication that many people may believe the company's "deceptive marketing," James said.

Last week, James ordered "The Jim Bakker Show" to stop marketing Sellman's products as a cure for the coronavirus after the show broadcast claims they were "proven to treat strains of the virus," according to Wednesday's statement.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic on Wednesday, and the number of confirmed cases worldwide now stands at more than 125,000, according to the organization's official Thursday estimates. The disease has spread to at least 118 countries since first appearing in China late last year.

On Tuesday, James also ordered two New York City merchants to stop charging excessive prices for hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays. Ace Hardware in midtown Manhattan was charging customers nearly $80 for a bottle of hand sanitizer, while City Fresh Market in Astoria, Queens, was charging almost $15 for a 19-ounce bottle of disinfectant spray, according to James' office.

"Any individual, company, or entity that deceives the public and preys on innocent civilians will pay for their unlawful actions," James said Thursday.

--Additional reporting by Hailey Konnath. Editing by Daniel King.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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