The Drug Enforcement Administration Thursday warned that telephone scammers have been impersonating DEA agents in an attempt to extort money or steal personal identifiable information. A new public service announcement says the DEA will never phone to demand money or ask for personal information.
There are variations in the false narrative, among them, that the targeted person’s name was used to rent a vehicle which was stopped at the border and contained a large quantity of drugs, the DEA said. The caller then has the target verify their Social Security number or will claim that the their bank account has been compromised.
In some cases, the caller threatens the target with arrest for the fictional drug seizure and instructs the person, over the phone, to send money via gift card or wire transfer to pay a “fine” or to assist with the investigation or with resetting the bank account.
Also, scammers have “spoofed” legitimate DEA phone numbers to convince their target that the call is legitimate — or texted photos of what appears to be a legitimate law enforcement credential with a photo.
The reported scam tactics continually change but often share many of the same characteristics. Callers use fake names and badge numbers as well as names of well-known DEA officials or police officers in local departments. Anyone receiving a call from a person claiming to be with DEA should report the incident to the FBI at www.ic3.gov. Also, the Federal Trade Commission provides recovery steps, shares information with more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies and takes reports at reportfraud.ftc.gov. More information about protections against identity theft is available at www.identitytheft.gov.
Reporting these scam calls will help federal authorities find, arrest and stop the criminals engaged in this fraud. Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law, punishable by up to three years in prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison plus fines and restitution.