DEA warns of alarming increase in scam callers threatening residents with arrest

Posted at 11:14 AM, Mar 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-13 11:34:52-04

(WXYZ) — The Drug Enforcement Administration is urging members of the public to watch out for calls of criminals posing as law enforcement officers and threatening arrest.

DEA says it continues to receive reports of scammers threatening residents with "prosecution for supposed violations of federal drug laws or involvement in drug-trafficking activities" and legal action if a large fine is not immediately paid over the phone.

The callers typically identified themselves as DEA agents and told the victims to pay the "fine" via wire transfer to avoid arrest, prosecution and prison time.

Officials say the scam tactics are always changing, but often share these characteristics:

  • Callers use fake names and badge numbers or, alternatively, names of well-known DEA senior officials.
  • The tone of calls is urgent and aggressive; callers refuse to speak or leave a message with anyone other than the person for whom they are calling.
  • Callers threaten arrest, prosecution and imprisonment, and in the case of medical practitioners, revocation of their DEA numbers.
  • Callers demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or, in some instances, in the form of untraceable gift cards taken over the phone.
  • Callers falsify the number on caller ID to appear as a legitimate DEA phone number.
  • Callers will often ask for personal information, such as social security number or date of birth.
  • When calling a medical practitioner, callers often reference National Provider Identifier numbers and/or state license numbers. They also might claim that patients are making accusations against the practitioner.

Residents should be aware that DEA personnel will not contact them demanding money or other forms of payment, according to the administration.

Also, impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law.

If you have received a similar call, report it online or call (877) 792-2873.