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Beware Scam by FDA Impersonators

January 12th, 2011

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about a scam targeting people who purchase medications over the Internet or via “telepharmacies.” The criminals call the victims and identify themselves as FDA special agents or other law enforcement officials. The scammers tell the victims that purchasing drugs over the Internet or the telephone is illegal, and that law enforcement action will be pursued unless a fine or fee ranging from $100 to $250,000 is paid. Victims often also have fraudulent transactions placed against their credit cards.

The criminals always request the money be sent by wire transfer to a designated location, usually in the Dominican Republic. If victims refuse to send money, they are often threatened with a search of their property, arrest, deportation, physical harm and/or incarceration.

“Impersonating an FDA official is a violation of federal law,” said Dara Corrigan, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “FDA special agents and other law enforcement officials are not authorized to impose or collect criminal fines. Only a court can take such action.”

So if you get a troublesome call from a person claiming to be from the FDA, do not give out any personal information. If you believe that you have lost money as the result of this scam, or if you have received a phone call from someone demanding money to settle law enforcement action, contact the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations (once on the site, click the link for “Report Suspected Criminal Activity”).

The FDA also reminds consumers that pharmaceutical products offered online and by telephone are often of unknown origin, and therefore can pose a substantial health risk. During the course of investigating this issue, the FDA found that some products purchased from online or telephone sources contained trace amounts of heroin or other potentially harmful drugs… and sometimes they contained no active ingredient at all!  In addition to the risk of unsafe or ineffective drugs, websites operating outside the law may also take an use your personal data and credit card information.

For all these reasons, the FDA recommends purchasing medications only from licensed pharmacies located in the United States. For more information about how to protect yourself and your personal information from counterfeit drugs, click here:  FDA’s Protecting Yourself.

And if you have questions about your legal options after being harmed by a medication or supplement, contact the lawyers of HensonFuerst. If you have questions, we have answers.