Two sisters who sold fake cancer treatments and useless “diet pills” to desperate customers have been ordered to repay more than £820,000.
Helen Buchan, 52, and Carol Wiseman, 50, made “misleading and unsubstantiated” claims about their products on the website and promotional material of their company, Secret Diet Drops Ltd.
The women, both of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, claimed the tablets they sold would help with weight loss and that their apple cider vinegar would kill cancer cells.
In 2016, they admitted to breaches of regulations designed to protect consumers from unfair trading and the firm was fined £9,000 at Peterhead Sheriff Court.
The women were also sentenced to carry out 180 hours each of community service.
The court heard Aberdeenshire Council’s trading standards department had received various complaints against the company in 2012 and 2013.
The sisters, who were the company’s directors, said they bought their products from a US supplier without questioning the manufacturer’s claims, insisting they had not meant to mislead customers.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have continued their efforts to claw back some of the women’s ill-gotten profits since the pair were sentenced.
Confiscation orders totalling around £826,822 were made at Peterhead Sheriff Court on Wednesday, prosecutors said following the hearing.
Buchan was ordered to hand over £528,505 and Wiseman was told to repay £298,316 under proceeds of crime laws.
Both women were given six months to pay the order, which is said to reflect the amount of money currently at their disposal.
The court found they had made from than £1.6m overall from their criminal activity and prosecutors vowed to recoup more cash if other assets become available.
Jennifer Harrower, procurator fiscal for specialist casework, said: “Carol Wiseman and Helen Buchan made false claims to entice vulnerable consumers into purchasing their products.
“In cases such as this, prosecution of a criminal offence does not mean the end of our involvement.
“We will use the laws available to us to ensure money obtained through crime is confiscated from those who do not deserve it and reinvested into the community.”
Additional reporting by PA