People who buy drugs online may be in for a nasty scam: The identifying information they give these sites can be used against them by scammers pretending to be FDA agents.
So not only are you more likely to get placebo pills that are fake, full of starch, dextrin and lactose instead of cancer medications, but these criminal will know your name, address and telephone number too.
These fake agents call up the drug-buyer and tell them their purchase was illegal, and threaten to prosecute them unless a fee — sometimes up to $250,000 — is paid.
The scam seems to have started around 2008, and since then hundreds of people have received these threatening phone calls, the FDA said in a statement released today:
Since the scams first came to FDA’s attention, [Special Agent Phillip] Walsky and other OCI [Office of Criminal Investigations] staff have handled dozens of calls from alarmed consumers. “I tell them it’s a scam,” Walsky says, “and that the best thing they can do is ignore the caller and hang up.”
Walsky and others who have spoken to concerned consumers also assure that no federal official would ever contact a consumer by phone and demand money or any other form of payment. As for actual physical danger, no known victim has ever been approached in person. Most of the fraudulent callers are actually based overseas, Walsky says.
The call is likely a scam 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 authorised to impose or collect fines imposed for criminal acts. Only a court can take such action, with fines payable to the U.S. Treasury.
To be safe, the FDA recommends using only trustworthy websites to order prescription and over the counter drugs online. Trustworthy sites are US based and are listed as a licensed pharmacy. This is also important because the risk of getting a counterfeit or unsafe medication is higher when you use the less trustworthy sites.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.