Alert: DEA warns of increasing extortion scam calls

Last Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2020

scam alert textThe Drug Enforcement Administration San Diego Field Division urges practitioners and members of the public to be cautious of telephone calls from criminals posing as DEA employees threatening arrest and prosecution for supposed violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug-trafficking activities.

DEA continues to receive reports of calls threatening legal action if an exorbitant fine is not paid immediately over the phone. The callers identify themselves as DEA personnel and instruct their victims to pay the "fine" via wire transfer to avoid arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.

The reported scam tactics are continually changing, but share many of the following characteristics:

  • Callers use fake names and badge numbers or names of well-known DEA senior officials.
  • The tone of calls is urgent and aggressive; callers refuse to speak or leave a message with anyone other than the person for whom they are calling.
  • Callers threaten arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment.
  • Callers demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or in the form of untraceable gift cards.
  • Callers falsify the number on caller ID to appear as a legitimate DEA phone number.
  • Callers often ask for personal information, such as social security number or date of birth.
  • When calling a medical practitioner, callers often reference National Provider Identifier numbers and/or state license numbers and threaten revocation of their DEA numbers.

DEA employees do not contact practitioners or members of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment. DEA will never request any personal or sensitive information over the phone. Notification of a legitimate DEA investigation or legal action is made via official letter or in person. Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law.

Anyone receiving a telephone call from a person purporting to be a DEA employee seeking money should refuse the demand and report the threat using DEA’s online form or by calling 877-792-2873. Reporting scam calls will greatly assist DEA in investigating and stopping this criminal activity.

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