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DEA warns registrants of extortion scam

March 14, 2019

Washington — The Drug Enforcement Administration is urging registered practitioners to be cautious of any telephone calls from persons claiming to be DEA agents or other law enforcement personnel for "supposed violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug-trafficking activities," the agency said March 13.

According to an agency email to registrants, the DEA has received information from practitioners and the general public who reported calls from individuals identifying themselves as DEA personnel threatening legal action if a fine is not immediately paid over the phone.

When calling health care practitioners, the agency said callers often reference National Provider Identifier numbers and/or state license numbers. The callers may also claim that patients are making accusations against the provider and may threaten arrest, prosecution, imprisonment and revocation of their DEA numbers

Additionally, callers may:

  • Use fake names, badge numbers or actual names of well-known DEA senior officials.
  • Refuse to speak or leave a message with anyone other than the person for whom they are calling.
  • Demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or untraceable gift cards taken over the phone.
  • Falsify the number on caller ID to appear as a legitimate DEA phone number.
  • Ask for personal information, such as social security number or date of birth.

The DEA stressed that its personnel "will never contact practitioners or members of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment" and urged anyone who receives such a call to refuse the demand and report the threat.

To report a suspected scam call, visit the DEA website or call 1-877-792-2873. Any urgent concerns or questions, including inquiring about legitimate investigations, should be directed to the local DEA field division, the agency said.

The ADA's Center for Professional Success also has information about avoiding scams. Log on to Success.ADA.org and search for "scams" to learn about scams related to telemarketing, sales and other topics.