For the modest price of $99.95, the
Anthrax Exterminator promises to zap invisible anthrax spores on surfaces
you may contact. "No more worries about anthrax lurking invisibly on
mail or other surfaces you come in contact with every day at work, home or
when going out in public," a promotional e-mail for the product reads.
But medical and consumer experts say
the only thing that products like the Anthrax Exterminator are absolutely
guaranteed to clean out is your wallet, The Beacon Journal wrote after speaking
to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The handheld, battery-operated
unit looks similar to a flashlight and ``allows people to easily zap anthrax
and sterilize surfaces such as your mailbox, the mail itself, desks, counters
at home or in the workplace as well as thousands of other surfaces. The Anthrax
Exterminator uses "ultraviolet C wave - the germicidal method recommended
by the Centers for Disease Control,'' the e-mail says. But Anthrax Exterminator
differs from the high-tech, multimillion-dollar irradiation systems the U.S.
Postal Service is using to treat mail. The Postal Service uses irradiation
systems with gamma waves generated from a radioactive source, electron beams
"The CDC is not endorsing this
or any product," explained CDC spokeswoman Mary Kay Sones. "Scam
artists often try to make a quick buck off the fear of the moment." Still,
that's not stopping some opportunistic entrepreneurs from trying to capitalize
on public fear by peddling anthrax eradicators particularly over the Internet,
according to the Journal. The company with the alleged "remedy,"
KR Research Inc., is promoting the Anthrax Exterminator through unsolicited
e-mails and its web site. On Monday, authorities were alerted, including the
postal inspector, to the possible scam. A phone number listed in a Reno, NV,
directory for the company was disconnected and e-mail sent to the company
was returned as undeliverable.
Steve Salter, director of online operations
for the Better Business Bureau, said the web site concerns him because it
is nonsecured. "The likelihood of you losing control of that credit card
number is more dangerous,'' he said. Consumers should not respond to unsolicited
e-mail advertisements Salter said. "Just delete them."