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The FDA has become aware of a scam where imposters pose as agency officials and attempt to extort money from consumers. Usually people are contacted either by internet or over the telephone, and told that they illegally purchased medication either online or over the phone and that they must pay fines ranging between $100 – $250,000. The imposters threaten consumers with various penalties, including arrest, deportation or incarceration if they do not pay the fines. Consumers are usually told to send the money via wire transfer to a specific location, often the Dominican Republic. Some victims of the scam have also had their credit cards used for fraudulent purchases. The FDA warns patients buying medication on the internet or over the phone that they should be careful because some distributors may sell unsafe or ineffective drugs and might compromise your personal information.

According to the FDA, it will never contact consumers over the phone to demand payment. In addition to FDA officials, the imposters have posed as DEA, FBI, Secret Service and U.S. Customs officials. It is a federal offense to impersonate an FDA or other law enforcement official. Further, government law enforcement officials can’t collect fines. The FDA is asking that anyone contacted about illegal medication purchases by someone claiming to be an FDA or other law enforcement official should call the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations at 1-800-521-5783.

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