Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) is warning 13th district residents that criminals posing as Special Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or other law enforcement agencies are extorting money from the public.
"We became aware of this scam when a constituent turned to our office for help," said Rep. Thornberry. "People should be are aware of this scheme before they become victims themselves. We also want them to know how important it is to report instances like this so these criminals can be found and prosecuted," he continued.
The way the scheme works is that criminals call the victims (who in many cases previously purchased drugs over the Internet or by telephone) and identify themselves as DEA agents or other law enforcement officials. They inform their victims that purchasing drugs over the Internet or by telephone is illegal, and that enforcement action will be taken against them unless they pay a fine. In most cases, the impersonators instruct their victims to pay the "fine" via wire transfer to a designated location, usually overseas. If victims refuse to send money, the impersonators often threaten to arrest them or search their property. Some victims who purchased their drugs using a credit card also reported fraudulent use of their credit cards.
Thornberry said it is his understanding that this is not the first instance in which a resident of the 13th district was the potential victim of this scheme and that there have been reports of similar scams across Texas and the country.
The Congressman also reminds people that this is a serious crime and cautioned them to be vigilant about their purchases. "Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law and something that is taken very seriously. This is also a good reminder for people to think twice before they buy things on the Internet or over the phone if they have not had a chance to verify the source," he said.
Anyone receiving a telephone call from a person purporting to be a DEA special agent or other law enforcement official seeking money should refuse the demand and report the threat to the Congressman's office or to local law enforcement authorities. In addition, you can report a potential extortion scam by calling the DEA hotline at 1-877-792-2873.