FDA warns of bogus agents duping public

FDA badgeConsumers buying medicines over the Internet are already risking exposure to fake medicines, but are also being preyed upon by criminals posing as Food and Drug Administration officials.

The counterfeit officials are focusing on consumers who have brought medicines via the Internet or 'telepharmacies'.

They call the victims and identify themselves as FDA special agents or other law enforcement officials, for example from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or US Customs Service.

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, according to the agency.

"Impersonating an FDA official is a violation of federal law," according to 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."

The modus operandi of the criminals is to request that money be sent by wire transfer to a designated location, usually in the Dominican Republic.

 If victims refuse, they are often threatened with a search of their property, arrest, deportation, physical harm, and or incarceration, according to the FDA warning, which is available on its website here.

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