'FDA special agent' calls are frauds


November 30, 2008|By DAN THANH DANG

Beware of an extortion scheme by callers who falsely identify themselves as "FDA special agents" or other FDA officials, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Several cases have been reported of callers 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" who orders the consumer to pay a fine of several thousand dollars 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."

The FDA says the calls come from cell phones or Voice-over-Internet that can be from a computer anywhere in the world.

The FDA also says the scheme probably started with the theft of personal information from consumers who bought drugs via the Internet.

Complaints or information regarding this scheme should be reported to the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations at 800-521-5783.

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