Scammers posing as DEA agents contact dental offices with demands

Several dentists have notified CDA Practice Support or their local dental societies of two scams targeting their dental practices.

Dentists in the San Francisco Bay Area, South Lake Tahoe and Central Valley report receiving calls from individuals who claim to be DEA agents, provide badge numbers and proceed to make demands. The callers tell the dentists they could be arrested if the demands are not met. One dentist reported that the caller told him his DEA license was being used to help transport “hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs across the Mexico border.”

The DEA has confirmed that the calls are scams and that the scammers are using falsified phone numbers that mimic legitimate DEA numbers.

Similar scams have made the rounds previously in California. In July 2018, criminals posed as DEA employees and targeted small businesses, including dental practices, as part of an extortion scam. In March of this year, the DEA warned in a press release of an “alarming increase of scam calls” that threaten legal action or demand immediate payment of fines.

“DEA personnel will never contact practitioners or members of the public by telephone to demand money or any form of payment. DEA will not request any personal or sensitive information over the phone. Notification of a legitimate investigation or legal action is made via official letter or in person,” the DEA states in the release.

Any DEA registrant who is contacted by individuals claiming to work for the agency and demanding or requesting money or threatening to suspend the registrant’s DEA license is urged to report the call using the DEA’s online extortion scam report form, available on the agency’s Diversion Control Division website. The one-page report gives registrants the option of receiving a callback from DEA personnel about the incident.

DEA registrants with questions may contact the DEA Registration Helpline at 800.882.9539.

In a second scam reported by at least three dentists to the San Gabriel Valley Dental Society, callers posing as employees of Southern California Edison, the electrical supply company, are contacting dental offices in attempt to collect money and personal information.

To help dentists avoid falling for this scam, CDA Regulatory Compliance Analyst Teresa Pichay advises that they train staff to verify a caller’s credentials and information, such as contacting the company using the information on the company website, before providing practice information to the individual. Another good practice is to limit the number of people who are authorized to place orders and pay invoices. Additionally, the validity of the number on the phone’s caller ID should not be assumed.

“Scammers want an immediate response. Don’t give it to them,” Pichay says. “Take a deep breath, research it, then act accordingly.”

Reference the Federal Trade Commission’s guidance on phone scams.

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