Warning issued to consumers over extortionists posing as FDA agents, federal officials

SILVER SPRING, Md. — International criminals are posing as Food and Drug Administration special agents and other law enforcement officers in order to extort money from consumers, the FDA warned Friday.

The FDA said the criminals will call the victims, who often previously purchased drugs through “telepharmacies” or over the Internet, and tell them that purchasing drugs online or over the telephone is illegal. They then attempt to extort “fines” ranging from $100 to $250,000 and instruct victims to transfer the money to a designated location, usually in the Dominican Republic, threatening the victims with property searches, arrests, deportations or physical harm if they fail to comply.

“Impersonating an FDA official is a violation of federal law,” FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs Dara Corrigan said. “FDA special agents and other law enforcement officials are not authorized to impose or collect criminal fines. Only a court can take such action.”

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