The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a warning concerning an extortion scam aimed at healthcare providers and other members of the public.

According to the Agency, the scam involves telephone calls from someone purporting to be a DEA agent who will then attempt to extort money from the victim. When calling doctors and pharmacists, the DEA impersonators claim that the healthcare provider is the subject of an investigation by the DEA and will demand money to clear their name. A characteristic of these calls includes a threat to revoke the provider’s DEA number.

Other members of the public being contacted are mostly individuals who previously purchased medications online or by telephone. The impersonators tell the victims that purchasing drugs in this manner is illegal and that enforcement action will be taken unless they pay a fine. If the victim refuses, the impersonators often threaten to arrest them or search their property.

The scam tactics are continually changing, however some of the characteristics include the scammers using fake badge numbers, falsifying their caller ID to make it seem like a legitimate DEA phone number, and, when calling a healthcare practitioner, referencing National Provider Identifier numbers and/or state license numbers. In some cases, the scammers have alleged that patients were making accusations against the practitioner.


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In a press release, the DEA’s Diversion Control Division stated, “The public should be aware that no DEA agent will ever contact members of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment.” The Agency is asking for those who receive a fraudulent call to report the threat online.

For more information or to report an attempted scam, visit deadiversion.usdoj.gov.

Reference

DEA warns of scammers impersonating DEA employees. https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2020/07/29/dea-warns-scammers-impersonating-dea-employees. Published July 29, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020.

This article originally appeared on MPR