FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge sued a Fayetteville organization Wednesday she claims targeted Hispanics with fraudulent covid-19 cures.
Rutledge sued Arkansas Regenerative Medical Center; Dr. Sarah Knife Chief, the firm’s medical director; and chiropractor Serge Francois.
The suit claims the firm and two employees fraudulently promoted expensive stem cell and ozone therapies to Northwest Arkansas’s Hispanic community. Patients were charged upward of $3,000 for the treatments.
“I will not allow Arkansans to fall prey to fraudulent covid cures, especially when the scams take advantage of a language and cultural barrier,” Rutledge said in a press release. “This business preyed on public fear and targeted a minority community for personal gain.”
The company, Chief and Francois used a popular Hispanic radio station and employed the station’s DJ earlier this year in an effort to reach Hispanics, who were being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, according to the news release.
The company also advertised the stem cell treatments and ozone therapy on its website and Facebook page, claiming they were “very effective” against covid-19 and would allow employees to return to work quicker.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says there are no drugs or other therapeutics presently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat covid-19, according to the press release.
The lawsuit was filed in Washington County Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Rutledge seeks restitution for consumers who were scammed, civil penalties, injunctive relief and other costs and fees incurred by the state in resolving the issue.
Anyone who has been impacted by similar actions is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.