DEA: Criminals impersonating DEA agents in scam

VIDEO: DEA - Criminals impersonating DEA agents in scam

SOUTH CAROLINA (WCSC) - If you've received a phone call from a Drug Enforcement Administration agent in the last few weeks demanding money, you're urged to call police.

Officials with the DEA say there are scammers who have been impersonating DEA agents recently in South Carolina.

They're trying to get your money in a quick and easy way.

"It's happening everyday all over the country," said Special Agent Chris Oksala of the Charleston DEA branch.

Scammers are now taking high profile positions by acting as DEA Agents, IRS members and law enforcement personnel.

This kind of scam has been going on for several years now, however recently there have been several cases here in South Carolina.

"We don't know why," Oksala said. "It is a recent trend in the last couple weeks, not only here in the Lowcountry, but also the midlands."

Oksala adds the Charleston branch has gotten numerous phone calls about this scam happening in our area over the past weeks.

"She was literally on her way to the bank yesterday to pull out money," he said about one woman who called the agency Tuesday.

In most cases the criminals are targeting people who buy prescription medications online from overseas pharmacies.

"I think the people who are selling the drugs are actually involved in the scamming," Oksala said. "Either selling their client base or they're getting hacked into."

Officials say during the phone call scam the impersonators usually inform the victim that purchasing drugs over the internet or by telephone is illegal.

"Usually men [will call], calling saying I'm Special Agent, whoever, with the DEA," Oksala said. "We're investigating you, there's a warrant out for your arrest, you're being charged with this amount of felonies. You need to pay this amount of money as a fine in order to avoid going to jail."

In most cases, the impersonators will tell the victims to pay the "fine" via wire transfer to a designated location, usually overseas.

"No agent will ever contact member of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment," a release from the DEA states.

As for buying medication online, it's illegal to buy meds from a pharmacy not approved by the DEA or FDA.

"By ordering any pharmaceutical medications online or by telephone from unknown entities, members of the public risk receiving unsafe, counterfeit, and/or ineffective drugs from criminals who operate outside of the law," the DEA statement continued.

However, if someone is caught in this kind of situation and is getting scammed, they don't have to worry about the consequences from authorities.

"We're not going to be targeting those people because they are victims," Oksala said.

Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law.

If you have encountered one of these phone calls, you're asked to call the local DEA branch and also report the information online at this link.

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