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DEA warns of scammers posing as employees threatening punishment for alleged drug violations

July 31, 2020

By Mary Beth Versaci

The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning registered practitioners and members of the public about telephone calls from scammers posing as DEA employees to defraud and extort victims.

The callers threaten arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for supposed violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug-trafficking activities unless victims pay a "fine" of thousands of dollars through a wire transfer or gift card, according to a DEA news release.

When calling medical practitioners, the scammers may threaten revocation of their DEA numbers, reference their National Provider Identifier numbers or state license numbers, or claim patients are making accusations against them.

The callers also may:

• Use names of well-known DEA officials or fake names and badge numbers.

• Use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak to or leave a message with anyone other than their targeted victim.

• Falsify the number on caller ID to appear as a legitimate DEA phone number.

• Ask for personal information, such as the victim's Social Security number or date of birth.

DEA personnel do not contact practitioners or members of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment, and they will not request any personal or sensitive information over the phone, according to the release. They only notify people of a legitimate investigation or legal action via official letter or in-person visit.

Anyone receiving this type of call should report it by using the DEA's online form or calling 1-877-792-2873.

The ADA 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, cybercrime and other topics, including those specific to the COVID-19 pandemic.