Washington, D.C. -- The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning members of the public and DEA-registered practitioners about scammers posing as DEA employees over the phone to defraud and extort victims. The scammers call their targets, spoof DEA phone numbers to appear legitimate, then threaten to arrest, prosecute, or imprison the victim for fake violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug trafficking unless the victim pays a fine over the phone, via wire transfer, or through a gift card.
The exact scam tactics continually change, but often share many of the same characteristics. The impostors use fake names and badge numbers or names of well-known DEA officials. They may also:
- Use an urgent and aggressive tone
- Refuse to speak with or leave a message with anyone other than the target
- Threaten arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, or revocation of DEA numbers from medical practitioners
- Demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or untraceable gift cards
- Falsify (spoof) caller ID numbers to appear as a legitimate DEA phone number
- Ask for personal information such as social security number or birth date
- Reference National Provider Identifier numbers or state license numbers when harassing medical practitioners
- Claim that patients are making accusations against a medical practitioner
DEA personnel do not contact medical practitioners or members of the public by phone to demand money. They will not request any personal or sensitive information over the phone. If there is an investigation or legal action that the DEA wishes to notify someone of, it will be done via letter or in-person.
Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law, and reporting scammers can help the DEA find and stop the criminals who engage in this type of fraud. Anyone who receives this type of scam call should report it using the DEA's online contact form or by calling (877) 792-2873.
DEA registrants can submit information through "Extortion Scam Online Reporting" on the DEA Diversion Control Division's website located here.