NEWS26 January 2010

Youth Research boss pleads guilty to federal fraud charges

Legal North America

US— Karen Forcade, the president of now-defunct research agency Youth Research Inc, has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in connection with faked child safety tests for cigarette lighters. She is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Court filings state that on more than one occasion between March 1994 and August 2005, Forcade falsified her own testing data and that of companies she hired to conduct the lighter test, changing details so as the tests appeared to have been conducted in line with regulations set out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

On several occasions, Forcade altered details of the birth dates, genders and schools of study participants so that the submitted data would meet mandated protocols.

CPSC regulations state that lighters need to be tested by a panel of 100 children of a specific age range and gender distribution, drawn from disparate geographic regions.

In one test, conducted in May 1998, court documents say Forcade fabricated data for 96 of the 100 children who comprised the testing panel.

According to court filings, the CPSC approved 97 lighters based on Forcade’s and Youth Research’s test reports. Forcade was paid approximately $15,000 per test by lighter manufacturers or importers.