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FDA Warns Public of Continued Extortion Scam By FDA Impersonators
Date:1/7/2011

SILVER SPRING, Md., Jan. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning the public about criminals posing as FDA special agents and other law enforcement personnel as part of a continued international extortion scam.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090824/FDALOGO)

The criminals call the victims -- who in most cases previously purchased drugs over the Internet or via "telepharmacies" -- and identify themselves as FDA special agents or other law enforcement officials. The criminals inform the victims that purchasing drugs over the Internet or the telephone is illegal, and that law enforcement action will be pursued unless a fine or fee ranging from $100 to $250,000 is paid. Victims often also have fraudulent transactions placed against their credit cards.

The criminals always request the money be sent by wire transfer to a designated location, usually in the Dominican Republic. If victims refuse to send money, they are often threatened with a search of their property, arrest, deportation, physical harm and/or incarceration.

"Impersonating an FDA official is a violation of federal law," said Dara Corrigan, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "FDA special agents and other law enforcement officials are not authorized to impose or collect criminal fines. Only a court can take such action."

In most instances, victims of extortion-related calls have also received telephone solicitations for additional pharmaceutical purchases from other possibly related, illegal entities located overseas. The extortionists use customer lists complete with extensive personal information provided through previous purchase transactions. These include names, addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, purchase histories and credit card account numbers.

Typically, these criminals use telephon
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SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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