DEA issues extortion scam warning involving Internet drug buys

IC3 warns of new direct sales scams

The Drug Enforcement Administration today issued a public warning that criminals posing as DEA agents have apparently amped up an old scam to steal consumers' money.

The DEA describes the scam like this: Criminals call the victims (who in most cases previously purchased drugs over the internet or by telephone) and identify themselves as DEA agents or law enforcement officials from other agencies.  The impersonators inform their victims that purchasing drugs over the internet or by telephone is illegal, and that enforcement action will be taken against them unless they pay a fine.  In most cases, the impersonators instruct their victims to pay the "fine" via wire transfer to a designated location, usually overseas.  If victims refuse to send money, the impersonators often threaten to arrest them or search their property.  Some victims who purchased their drugs using a credit card also reported fraudulent use of their credit cards.

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The DEA went on to note that under no circumstances would an agent ever contact the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment.

The DEA noted that it is illegal to purchase controlled substance pharmaceuticals online or by telephone unless very stringent requirements are met. "All pharmacies that dispense controlled substance pharmaceuticals by means of the internet must be registered with DEA.  By ordering any pharmaceutical medications online or by telephone from unknown entities, members of the public risk receiving unsafe, counterfeit, and/or ineffective drugs from criminals who operate outside the law.  In addition, personal and financial information could be compromised."

In related scam news, the Internet Crime Complaint Center's (IC3) today noted the "Top Nine Fraud Attacks impacting eCommerce."

These attacks were identified by frequency of attack and revenue loss.  In ranked order, the top nine fraud attacks identified were:

9) Triangulation Schemes

8) Phishing/Pharming/Whaling

7) Botnets

6) Re-shipping

5) Affiliate Fraud

4) Identity Theft

3) Friendly Fraud

2) Account Takeover

1) Clean Fraud

The IC3 also noted that  direct sales companies have seen a large surge in fake orders being places with their consultants.

"The consultants are contacted through the legitimate "find a consultant" link located on the various sales Websites. In each instance, the suspects are placing large orders and agreeing to pay by check. The consultant receives the check for a much larger amount than the total cost for the products. The consultants are instructed to cash the check and send the difference back to the buyer via wire transfer. The IC3 has received several complaints filed by consultants from companies affected by this scam."

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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