FDA: Beware of Impersonators

Consumers should be on the lookout for callers impersonating “FDA special agents” or other FDA officials. The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers about a fraudulent scheme to extort money from consumers by callers who falsely identify themselves as "FDA special agents" or other FDA officials.

Several instances have been reported to the 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.

"Impersonating an FDA official is a violation of federal law," said Michael Chappell, the FDA's acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "The public should note that no FDA official will ever contact a consumer by phone demanding money or any other form of payment. FDA officials always present identification in person when conducting official business."

Consumers should note that the fraudulent calls appear to be from telephone numbers located within the United States, but are in fact 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. Reports to FDA describe the callers as having Hispanic accents.

The 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.

The FDA is investigating and complaints or information regarding this scheme should be reported to the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations at (800) 521-5783.

The FDA reminds consumers to purchase prescription drugs only from licensed pharmacies located in the United States. Information about the proper purchase of on-line medicine can be found at: http://www.fda.gov/consumer/features/drugsonline0707.html.

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