Fake FDA agents trying to steal money

Ruth to the Rescue warns of fake FDA agents seeking quick cash

Published On: Sep 25 2012 04:55:12 PM EDT

Scam artists are at it again! This time, they are posing as agents from the Food and Drug Administration.

On Tuesday, the actual Food and Drug Administration sent out an alert, targeting people who order their medications online.

The FDA says its always trying to stop the scam artists, but they are hard to track and their likely to keep working the scam.

How it works

The fake agents represent themselves as being from the Food and Drug Administration. They claim you've somehow broken the law by ordering medication online. They demand you pay a fine that can range from $100 to $250,000. They'll say if you refuse to pay up, someone could search your property, arrest, deport, or put you in jail.

Philip Walskly, the special agent in charge of the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations reassures people that no federal official will call you by phone to demand payment of money or any other form of payment. Still, he's heard from dozens of alarmed consumers.

"I tell them it's a scam ... and that the best thing they can do is ignore the caller and hang up," said Philip Walsky, the special agent in charge of the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations.

If they do not demand money, you should also avoid giving those callers any personal information.

Other trouble signs according to the FDA, if the so-called agent directs you to send the money by wire transfer to a designated location, usually overseas, and if you are warned not to call an attorney or the police. In fact, FDA special agents and other law enforcement officials are not authorized to impose or collect fines imposed for criminal acts. Only a court can take such action, with fines payable to the U.S. Treasury.

Making the calls stop

Walsky advises victims of these scams to change whatever phone number(s) the caller used to contact them in the first place, and to stop buying drugs online unless they know the website is trustworthy. If you have purchased medication online or via telephone, you may also want to 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.

Victims can report their experience to FDA via OCI's website.

Click on "Report Suspected Criminal Activity."