MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Don’t be scammed by fake Drug Enforcement Administration agents looking to steal your money. That’s the warning being issued by the DEA about a widespread fraud scheme where fake agents are calling people in an attempt to extort money or steal personal information.
The DEA has released a new public service announcement which aims to raise awareness that DEA will never phone anyone demanding money or asking for personal information.
So what’s the scam?
There are different variations of the fake call but one of them involves a claim that the target’s name was used to rent a vehicle which was stopped at the border and contained a large quantity of drugs. The caller then has the target verify their social security number or tells the target their bank account has been compromised. In some cases, the caller threatens the target with arrest for the fictional drug seizure and instructs the person, over the phone, to send money via gift card or wire transfer to pay a “fine” or to assist with the investigation or with resetting the bank account.
Sometimes, the number can even appear to be a legitimate DEA phone number to help convince their target that the call is real.
They may even text photos of what appears to be a legitimate law enforcement credential with a photo. Callers use fake names and badge numbers as well as names of well-known DEA officials or police officers in local departments.
A portion of an actual scam call was captured by DEA and can be heard here.
The caller may also use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak to or leave a message with anyone other than their targeted victim.
They often threaten arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, and, in the case of medical practitioners and pharmacists, revocation of their DEA registration, then they demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or in the form of untraceable gift card numbers.
So remember, no legitimate federal law enforcement officer will demand cash or gift cards from a member of the public.
For any victims who have given personally identifiable information like a social security number to the caller, visit this website to learn how to protect against identity theft.