Scranton, Pa. – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Chinnapatr Chunhasomboon, age 41, of Bangkok, Thailand, was indicted on March 30, 2021, by a federal grand jury for fraudulently selling chloroquine phosphate to United States citizens, including four Pennsylvania residents, as a treatment for COVID-19.
According to Acting United States Bruce D. Brandler, the indictment alleges Chunhasomboon sold unapproved chloroquine phosphate to customers worldwide, including in the United States, as a treatment for both COVID-19 and for malaria.
Chunhasomboon allegedly evaded, and attempted to evade, U.S. Customs inspectors by disguising his shipments of chloroquine phosphate as fish tank accessories and cell phone cases, among other things.
Chunhasomboon also allegedly undervalued the shipments to be worth only $10 to $12, when in fact, they often were worth several hundred dollars each. Chunhasomboon allegedly made tens of thousands of dollars from his scheme.
Chloroquine phosphate is not approved by the FDA as a COVID-19 treatment. The CDC previously reported that two individuals who ingested chloroquine phosphate they obtained for treating aquarium fish did so as a prophylactic measure against COVID-19. One of those individuals died, and one was left critically ill.
Chunhasomboon is charged with two counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud for selling chloroquine phosphate to four customers located in Pennsylvania.
He also is charged with two counts of smuggling chloroquine phosphate into the United States, two counts of introducing misbranded drugs into U.S. commerce, and two counts of introducing unapproved new drugs into U.S. commerce.
Chunhasomboon is also charged with two counts of making false statements to federal agents, denying that he sold chloroquine phosphate as either a treatment for COVID-19 or for malaria.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the Food and Drug Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo is prosecuting the case.