By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
Health care providers beware, there is a scam making its rounds in Central Florida. Con men are telephoning citizens, including physicians, and pretending to be Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in the hope of extorting money from them.
It’s a scam we first told you about in December 2012, but have since learned more. Click here to read my first blog on this nationwide telephone scam.
How Phony DEA Agents Scam Unsuspecting Citizens.
The scam starts with criminals posing as DEA agents calling victims by telephone. Frequently, just by coincidence, the victims will have purchased prescription drugs over the internet, by phone or from a foreign country. The imposters tell the victims that purchasing the drugs in this manner is illegal, and that the phony DEA agent has an arrest warrant for them. They are then advised that they can pay a cash fine and avoid arrest. We’ve heard reports that the criminals tell the victims to wire the funds to the DEA’s account, which is actually an overseas account.
If the victims refuse to send money, the phony DEA agents threaten to arrest the victims or come out and search their property.
Click here to read more on this scam from a DEA press release.
The Central Florida DEA is Investigating.
As we stated before, this is a nationwide scam. However, we’ve recently received a report from a local health care provider that was contacted by one of these phony DEA agents. This person was told the by the con men that he was being investigated by the DEA for an outstanding warrant. The thought of being the target of a DEA investigation can be quite unnerving for anyone working in the medical field.
The real DEA is aware of the situation and is doing a thorough investigation into the scam. Until agents find the people behind this con, they want to remind you that no DEA agent will ever contact a subject by telephone. However, a DEA agent, just like any other law enforcement officer, might show up at your house early in the morning or while you are eating dinner. If you were actually going to be arrested or charged for a crime, the agents would not offer to drop the charges in exchange for money.
Contact the DEA Immediately If You Receive a Similar Call.
Criminals are counting on the fact that they will reach a certain number of people who have actually purchased drugs over the internet and will not know for sure whether this is legal. They are counting on the fact that if victims think they may have purchased drugs illegally, they will get scared and believe the false accusations. Many people have no idea whether such conduct is legal or illegal. These imposters are banking on your ignorance and fear of being arrested for a criminal act or losing your professional license to practice. They are also banking on the fact you won’t report this to the real police or DEA. If you receive a similar call from phony DEA agents, call the real DEA at 1-877-792-2873.
How Do Criminals Get Victims’ Information?
Chances are they are just “cold-calling” people. There are bound to be a certain number of people (especially in Florida) they reach who have done this. However, if they seem to have your personal health information (or credit card number) report this to the police right away. Be sure to obtain a written police report. Also, you should file a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to begin an investigation if you believe your personal health information has been stolen by or given to someone else to use.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Have you received a call from these phony DEA agents? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “DEA Scam Alert – Extortion Scheme.” DEA. (November 28, 2012). From: http://www.justice.gov/dea/divisions/mia/2012/mia112812a.shtml
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
Tag Words: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), DEA agents, scam alert, prescription-drug scam, extortion scam, online drug purchase, drug purchases on the telephone, DEA investigation, controlled substance purchases online, pharmacy, pharmacies, pharmacist, defense attorney, defense lawyer, HIPAA Privacy Complaint, Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
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