People are warned to be vigilant of an international extortion scam involving criminals posing as Drug Enforcement Administration agents.
The criminals are generally targeting people who have bought pharmaceutical drugs over the Internet or phone. These people will receive a call from someone identifying themselves as a DEA agent, or in some cases a law enforcement official from another agency. The impersonator will then tell the victim that purchasing drugs over the Internet or phone is illegal, and that they must pay a fine to avoid any legal ramifications. Typically, the victim is instructed to pay a fine through a wire transaction, usually overseas. The impersonator threatens arrest if the victim resists paying the fine.
Some victims who have used their credit cards to purchase drugs have reported fraudulent use on their cards.
The DEA says that while purchasing controlled substance pharmaceutical drugs is not entirely illegal, stringent requirements must be met in order for it to be done legally; additionally, there are many risks involved.
Kevin Merrill, Acting Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Denver Field Division said in a statement released by the DEA, “By ordering any pharmaceutical medications online or by telephone from unknown entities, members of the public risk receiving unsafe, counterfeit, and/or ineffective drugs from criminals who operate outside the law. In addition, personal and financial information could be compromised. Unfortunately, we have received several reports of Colorado citizens being victimized by this scam.”
The DEA says that their agents would not contact someone over the phone to demand money, and that if anyone receives a call from someone claiming to be from the DEA doing that very thing, report the call immediately. Impersonating a federal agent is against federal law.