(WXYZ) — The Drug Enforcement Administration is sending out a warning to the public about scammers posing as DEA agents and stealing identities and money from their victims.
According to a press release, the DEA said there is a widespread telephone fraud scheme in which the scammer pretending to be a DEA agent tells the victim that their name was used to rent a vehicle that was stopped at the border and found to be transporting drugs. The scammer then asks the victim to verify their social security number, saying their bank account has been compromised. Some of the scammers have also requested payment via gift card or wire transfer to aid with the investigation. The DEA said there are variations and that scammers are spoofing DEA phone numbers or texting victims photos of "law enforcement credentials."
“Our office receives 3 – 5 calls a month from people all over the country, often moments after they have gotten off the phone with these con artists,” said Detroit Field Division Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin, in a press release. “DEA personnel will never contact members of the public or medical practitioners by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment."
He added, “DEA will never request personal or sensitive information over the phone, and will only notify people of a legitimate investigation or legal action in person or by official letter. In fact, no legitimate federal law enforcement officer will demand cash or gift cards from a member of the public.”
The DEA says to beware of these signs:
- use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak to or leave a message with anyone other than their targeted victim;
- threaten arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, and, in the case of medical practitioners and pharmacists, revocation of their DEA registration;
- demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or in the form of untraceable gift card numbers the victim is told to provide over the phone;
- ask for personal information, such as social security number or date of birth;
- reference National Provider Identifier numbers and/or state license numbers when calling a medical practitioner. They also may claim that patients are making accusations against that practitioner.
If you do receive a call from someone claiming to be a DEA agent, report the incident to the FBI here.