Scam artists posing as employees from the Food and Drug Administration are issuing official-looking letters to those who have tried to buy pharmaceuticals from illegal online pharmacies, the agency warned Friday.
These fake warning letters accuse the consumers of potential drug violations, according to the FDA. While the letters don’t demand money, they issue ominous warnings to consumers.
“We know that at least three dozen consumers have been contacted and have received this warning letters,” said FDA spokeswoman Lyndsay Meyer.
She said the investigation continues in what the FDA believes is an international extortion scam. She didn’t indicate where the letters were sent.
As more consumers buy medicines online or over the phone, the number of online pharmaceutical-related scams is on the rise.
“This scam associated with these purchases is not uncommon, however a scam of this nature where sending state warning letters is unique,” Meyer said. “We have always warned that buying medicines online from illegal online pharmacies or people who are unlicensed to sell medicine carry a number of risks.”
The FDA says it never generally sends warning letters directly to consumers.
Both of the fake letters sent to consumers that were provided by the FDA threaten consumers with possible legal consequences for having attempted to buy medicines on the Internet or over the phone. They warn them not to contact their providers under any circumstances since they are under investigation.
The FDA said the scam artists have consumers’ financial information and mailing addresses. As a result, Meyer said it was important to warn right away about the scam in case the perpetrators take the next step with extortion letters.