Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials say criminal scam artists are selling prescription drugs online, then using customers’ personal information to blackmail them.
The scam artists pose as federal drug enforcement agents. They use DEA agents’ real names to call customers, telling them they can pay up and their name will be cleared, or else they will be charged as suspects in a criminal investigation and face jail time, according to ABC News.
The victims say the calls sound authentic, because the person calling has their personal information. In one case in Fort Worth, Texas, fake DEA agents showed up at a victim’s house.
Thousands of people have called the DEA hotline for help, many of whom have paid the scammers. The DEA believes the operation is being run out of the Dominican Republic. The agency is working with the Dominican government to have 11 suspects extradited to the United States.
The DEA warned Americans to be wary of online pharmacies. “I think that’s one of the takeaways for people to understand, that buying over the Internet for controlled substances is highly suspicious, and they should be very cautious about trying to do that,” DEA agent Gary Boggs told ABC News.