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DEA warns registered practitioners of impersonation scam

August 03, 2020 5566

The Drug Enforcement Administration in a July 29 press release warns registered practitioners that scammers are posing as DEA employees in telephone calls in an attempt to defraud and extort victims. 

According to the DEA, the scammers are calling from spoofed DEA phone numbers “to appear legitimate and threaten arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment for supposed violations of federal drug laws” or involvement in illegal activities unless the victim pays a fine over the phone.

The DEA stresses that its personnel will never contact practitioners by phone to demand any form of payment, nor will it request sensitive personal information over the phone. Notification of legal action or formal investigations is conducted in person or by official letter only.

The impersonation scam is a recurring one, and the DEA has issued similar warnings over the years. Earlier this year, the Dental Board of California alerted dentists about a wave of calls in a fraud scheme that CDA first reported last September.

Although the scammers will vary their tactics, their calls frequently share the same characteristics. Potential victims should especially consider the following red flags:

  • Caller uses urgent or aggressive tone
  • Caller threatens to revoke a DEA registration number or threatens arrest or prosecution
  • Caller demands payment by wire transfer or other method over the phone
  • Caller asks for personal, sensitive information, such as a Social Security number or birthdate

Scammers have reportedly referenced National Provider Identification numbers or state license numbers and, according to the DEA, “might claim that patients are making accusations against that practitioner.” Because scammers can mimic DEA phone numbers, practitioners should be cautious of any unexpected call from the DEA or a call from anyone using the tactics described above.

DEA registrants who receive a call from a DEA impersonator can submit a report online on the DEA website.

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