The FDA says criminals have been posing as FDA special agents and other law enforcement officers as part of an international extortion scam.
Scammers have been calling people, mostly those who bought prescription drugs over the Internet, and saying they are with the FDA. The impostors say buying drugs on the phone or the Internet is illegal, and that charges will be pressed against them. The impostor says the person can avoid criminal charges if they pay a fine, which can range from $100 to $250,000. The FDA says the targets of these criminals also have fraudulent transactions placed against their credit cards.
The criminals always request the money be sent by wire transfer, usually in the Dominican Republic. If victims refuse to send money, they are often threatened with a search of their property, arrest, deportation, physical harm, and or incarceration.
Anyone receiving a telephone call from a person purporting to be an FDA or other law enforcement official who is seeking money to settle a law enforcement action for the illegal purchase of drugs over the Internet should refuse the demand and call the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office at (800) 521-5783 to report the crime.
In addition to posing as FDA officials, criminals have posed as special agents of the DEA, FBI, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Customs Service, as well as U.S. and Dominican prosecutors and judges. In response, the FDA, in conjunction with various federal, state, and local agencies, is actively pursing criminal charges.
The FDA also reminds consumers to be careful when purchasing prescription drugs over the telephone or the Internet. In addition to the increased risk of purchasing unsafe and ineffective drugs from Web sites operating outside the law, there is the danger that personal data can be compromised.