March 3, 2021
by Seena Gressin Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
We’re getting reports about scammers pretending to be Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. They’re trying to get your money and personal information, and using alarming phone calls to do it.
The DEA is alerting people to the scam. Their message: It’s not the DEA calling. The scammers use fake names and badge numbers. Sometimes they use the names of real DEA agents and may even text photos of what look like legitimate law enforcement credentials. They may have information about you, like part or all of your Social Security number (SSN). When they target medical practitioners, like doctors and pharmacists, they may have their National Provider Identifier number or state license number.
The scammers’ stories vary, but usually go something like this: They’ve seized a car packed with illegal drugs. It was rented in your name. Or, they found identifying papers with your name in the car, at some drug-linked location, or on a bank account used for money laundering. You’re going to be arrested for drug trafficking and money laundering.
The fake agent comes up with a reason for you to transfer money to him — maybe for safekeeping, to pay a fine, or to prove you’re willing to cooperate. They’ll tell you how to send the money, often by wire transfer or by buying gift cards and telling them the numbers on the back of the cards.
Here’s what you need to know:
The DEA will never call and ask for your SSN or other personal information. It won’t ask you to pay anything. And it won’t call to say you’re under investigation or threaten you with arrest.
Your caller ID might show a real DEA phone number, but that’s not the real DEA calling. Computers make it easy to show any number on caller ID. Don’t trust what you see there.
Never give your SSN to anyone who contacts you. Don’t confirm the last 4 digits. And don’t give a bank account or credit card number — ever — to anybody who contacts you asking for it.
Anyone who tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash or cryptocurrency is a scammer. Always. No matter who they say they are.
If you get a call like this, hang up. Tell friends and family members about it. Then, tell us about it too, at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.