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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Consumers

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Beware of Extortion Scam by FDA Impersonators


As part of a fraudulent scheme to extort money from consumers, callers have falsely identified themselves as officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Consumers should know that FDA officials never contact consumers by phone to demand money or any other form of payment. "Impersonating an FDA official is a violation of federal law," says Michael Chappell, FDA's acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.

 

Offers of Discounted Prescription Drugs

Several instances have been reported to FDA of calls enticing consumers to purchase discounted prescription drugs by wiring funds to one of several locations in the Dominican Republic. No medications are ever delivered.

A subsequent call is received from a fraudulent "FDA special agent" informing the consumer that a fine of several thousand dollars is required to be sent to an address in the Dominican Republic to prevent incarceration or other legal action.

Though the fraudulent calls appear to be from telephone numbers located within the United States, they are from either ported voice-over-the-Internet-protocol numbers (calls made directly from a computer and moved or "ported" to other computers to avoid detection) or cellular phones.

This scheme most likely began with the theft of personal information from consumers who previously purchased drugs via the Internet or telephone, or who were victims of credit card fraud. FDA reminds consumers to purchase prescription drugs only from licensed pharmacies located in the United States.

Report complaints or information regarding this scheme to FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations at (800) 521-5783.

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This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

 

Date Posted: November 17, 2008