A recent Food and Drug Administration consumer update is warning those who purchase medication online to be wary of bogus FDA agents.
Online consumers face an increased risk of purchasing unsafe or ineffective drugs from websites operating outside of the law, and can also compromise the privacy of their personal data, according to the FDA alert. Criminals may acquire and sell personal information from transactions with consumers, including names, addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, purchase histories and credit card account numbers.
Here’s how the current scam works: Someone will call you and identify him or herself as an FDA agent or another kind of law enforcement official. You’ll be told that purchasing drugs over the Internet or telephone is illegal and be threatened with prosecution unless a fine or fee from $100 to $250,000 is paid, often through a wire transfer. If you refuse to pay up, the caller will threaten to search your properties, arrest or deport you, put you in jail or even physically harm you.
Here’s what you should do: Hang up the phone. As for actual physical danger, no known victim has ever been approached in person, according to the scam alert. Most fraudulent callers are based overseas.
Alert your credit card company and make sure that your account is up to date, and that no suspicious charges have been made against your credit card.
Report the experience to FDA at www .fda.gov/ICECI/CriminalInvestigations/default.htm by clicking on “Report Suspected Criminal Activity."
— Anne Aurand, The Bulletin