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Mail-Order Muscles
Rick Telander
November 22, 1993
How big is the market for illegal bodybuilding drugs? Huge, says the author, who went on the trail of a steroid-selling scam
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November 22, 1993

Mail-order Muscles

How big is the market for illegal bodybuilding drugs? Huge, says the author, who went on the trail of a steroid-selling scam

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Like me, Turschic had had no idea what he would do if he had to confront the scammers. He got his flier from a Buffalo physician, who told Turschic that teenage patients of his had sworn they had gotten drugs from Mass Machine.

"I watched the box after that first visit," Turschic continued, "but I never saw the guy come again. They never sent any drugs, and we had other things to do at the station." Turschic shook his head, thinking about the appeal of steroids to young men. "I was a skinny kid on the high school football team."" mused Turschic. "I might have been interested in this stuff." I told him I knew what he meant.

My last stop was the office of John Scutt, the government's prosecuting attorney in the case. Scutt was concerned with not divulging any information that might be prejudicial to his case. He was also interested in saving the good taxpayers as much money as possible. In that regard, I informed him, I was willing to be a witness for the prosecution at my own expense. He pondered this, knowing that a reporter's purposes are seldom as simple as stated. He said, though, that he would consider using me as a witness.

"I doubt you'll get your money back," he said after a time. "In a sense this is just your standard fraud case. Like purchasing swampland in Florida." He added, though, that most of the victims in this case were "nickeled and dimed," that my order was one of the largest ones. He would call if he needed me, he promised.

On the plane home I realized that what I really wanted was just to see the con men. I wanted to look at them in court and ask them what they thought they were doing. Did they really think they could get away with this scam? I wanted to ask them if they had realized the world was as twisted and muscle-mad as it is. Were even they surprised by the huge response to their illicit pitch? So many people dying to change their bodies. Think of it. Say the take in this scam was $2 million and the average victim sent in $100, both of which seem reasonable. That means there were 20,000 people who liked what the Fullers and Murphy were offering.

That's massive.

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