PUBLIC SAFETY: The federal government is warning citizens to beware of thieves posing as DEA agents who are are calling people who bought drugs online and demanding they pay a “fine” for what they claim are illegal purchases.
Federal authorities are also reminding citizens that no DEA agent would ever contact them by phone to demand anything.
The imposters have been threatening arrest or property searches of those who refuse to fall for the scam, the DEA said in an advisory.
Some victims who bought their drugs online also reported fraudulent use of their credit cards.
Local authorities in Bergen County — including the River Vale Police Department — are spreading the word in an attempt to keep citizens from becoming victims of the international extortion scheme.
The criminals “identify themselves as DEA agents or law enforcement officials from other agencies,” then “inform their victims that purchasing drugs over the Internet or by telephone is illegal,” the DEA said in a release.
The imposter then say “enforcement action will be taken against them unless they pay a fine.
“In most cases, the impersonators instruct their victims to pay the ‘fine’ via wire transfer to a designated location, usually overseas,” the advisory said.
Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law.
“The DEA reminds the public to use caution when purchasing controlled substance pharmaceuticals by telephone or through the Internet,” the department advisory says. “It is illegal to purchase controlled substance pharmaceuticals online or by telephone unless very stringent requirements are met.”
All pharmacies that sell online must be registered with DEA, it adds.
Those who order pharmaceuticals online or by telephone risk receiving unsafe, counterfeit, and/or ineffective drugs from criminals who operate outside the law, the agency emphasized.
“In addition, personal and financial information could be compromised.”
After refusing such demands, the DEA asks citizens to report the calls by going to www.DEA.gov and clicking on the “Extortion Scam Alert” link on the home page.
OR CALL: 1-877-792-2873
“Online reporting will greatly assist DEA in investigating and stopping this criminal activity,” the department advisory says.
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