Nov 10, 2010 2:33 PM by Greg Boyce

DEA warns of extortion scheme

The Drug Enforcement Administration says there is an international extortion scam operating, which may victimize unknowing Americans.

Criminals are posing as DEA agents or other law enforcement personnel.  They call a victim, who in most cases has previously bought drugs over the Internet or by phone, and tell that person the purchase is illegal and they must pay a fine.

In most cases, the impersonators instruct their victims to pay the "fine" via wire transfer to a designated location, usually overseas.  If victims refuse to send money, the impersonators often threaten to arrest them or search their property.  Some victims who purchased their drugs using a credit card also reported fraudulent use of their credit cards.

Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law.  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 DEA reminds the public to use caution when purchasing controlled substance pharmaceuticals by telephone or through the Internet.  It is illegal to purchase controlled substance pharmaceuticals online or by telephone unless very stringent requirements are met. All pharmacies that dispense controlled substance pharmaceuticals by means of the Internet must be registered with DEA.  

Kevin Merrill, Acting Special Agent in Charge of DEA's Denver Field Division said, "By ordering any pharmaceutical medications online or by telephone from unknown entities, members of the public risk receiving unsafe, counterfeit, 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."

Anyone receiving a telephone call from a person purporting to be a DEA special agent or other law enforcement official seeking money should refuse the demand and report the threat at 1-877-792-2873.



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