Public warned of telephone extortion scam
by Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office and DCI
July 3, 2012
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING - The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office and the Division of Criminal Investigation’s Southwest Enforcement Team today (Tuesday, July 3) issued a warning about con artists posing as federal drug agents in an international telephone extortion scheme.
Sheriff Rich Haskell and the Southwest Enforcement Team, headquartered in Rock Springs, reported today that several Sweetwater County residents, several of whom purchased prescription medication by phone or over the Internet, have received calls from imposters claiming to be agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal government’s drug law enforcement agency, who claim the person is the subject of a federal investigation and threaten arrest if a fine is not paid.
The caller most often instructs prospective victims to pay the bogus fine via wire transfer. Victims are often told their homes will be searched if they do not pay up.
"These calls are coming from overseas and are completely fraudulent," said Haskell. "No DEA agent will ever contact people by phone and demand that a fine be paid."
Officials say the criminals involved in the scheme use special phone scramblers, which make the calls appear to originate in the United States.
The DEA and local law enforcement recommend that the public exercise caution when buying controlled substance medications online or over the phone. All pharmacies dispensing controlled substance pharmaceuticals on the Internet must be registered with the DEA.
"Be sure that the pharmacy you’re dealing with is legitimate," Haskell said. "If they’re not, you risk receiving unsafe, ineffective, or counterfeit medication from people who are not pharmacists, but criminals. What’s more, you might be compromising personal and financial information."
Anyone who receives a telephone call from a person claiming to be a federal agent or other law enforcement officer seeking money to pay a drug fine should refuse to do so and contact a special DEA hot line at 1-877-792-2873 to report the call.
The DCI Southwest Enforcement Team is a special drug task force comprised of DCI special agents and investigators from the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, the Green River Police Department, the Uinta County Sheriff’s Office, the Evanston Police Department, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.