The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning residents about about criminals posing as DEA special agents or other law enforcement personnel in an online and telephone extortion scheme.
Scams similar to this one have been reported in Strongsville.
In this scheme, the con artist calls a victim -- someone who has purchased drugs on the Internet or by telephone -- and identifies himself as a DEA or other law enforcement agent.
The impersonator says buying drugs by phone or online is illegal, and the person will be prosecuted unless he pays a fine -- usually by wiring money, often overseas.
If victims refuse, the con artist threatens to arrest them or search their property.
Some people who purchased their drugs using a credit card also reported fraudulent use of their credit cards.
DEA offices nationwide regularly receive telephone calls from victims of this extortion effort.
The public should be aware that no DEA agent will ever contact members of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment, the DEA said in a news release.
Also, people should use caution when purchasing pharmaceuticals by telephone or through the Internet. It is, in fact, illegal to purchase controlled substance pharmaceuticals that way unless very stringent requirements are met -- for one thing, the pharmacy must be registered with the DEA.
Those that aren't may deliver unsafe, counterfeit or ineffective drugs.
Anyone who receives a suspicious call should report the threat: Report Extortion Scam: 1-877-792-2873.