On September 25, 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration reminded consumers to remain on the lookout for fake agents over the phone.
The FDA reports that since the scam started in 2008, “hundreds of people who have purchased drugs over the Internet or via telephone have unwittingly exposed themselves to extortion by individuals posing as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agents.”
The FDA, the DEA, and the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement under the Homeland Security Investigations have made numerous arrests over the last 4 years, but the scams still continue to affect consumers.
The scam over the phone works in the following way. A person will call and identify themselves as an FDA special agent or a similar kind of official. The fake agent will tell you that purchasing drugs over the internet is illegal and threaten prosecution unless you pay a fine from $100 to $250,000. If you refuse, the fake agent will threaten to search your property, arrest you, incarcerate you, and more. In such a case, the FDA tells consumers to hang up the phone immediately.
If you do purchase drugs off of the internet, you need to make sure the website is trustworthy, or else you run the risk of exposing personal information and receiving bogus prescriptions.
The FDA recommends the following tips in identifying a trustworthy website:
· the website should be located in the United States and provide a street address
· the website should be licensed by the state board of pharmacies
· there is a licensed pharmacist available to answer questions
· the website requires a prescription from your health care professional
· the website should contain the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) seal
Source: Food and Drug Administration