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Warning re-issued: Extortion scam targets DEA registrants

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is renewing its alert to plastic surgeons and others who are DEA registrants that a telephone and email scam is underway to illegally collect money from unsuspecting victims through bogus threats of DEA registration suspension and outright demands for cash. This warning comes after a similar announcement in early April, and it cites identical processes and intentions.

The DEA's Diversion Control Division warns that registrants are receiving telephone calls and e-mails from individuals who identify themselves as DEA Special Agents or other law enforcement personnel, with the callers and email authors reportedly demanding money outright from registrants or threatening to suspend registrants' DEA registration in the absence of a payment. The demands are based on the impersonators' insistence that purchasing drugs over the Internet or by telephone is illegal, and that enforcement action will be taken against the medical professional unless he or she pays a fine.

The criminal's telephone number will be masked on caller ID – or the DEA Registration Support 800 number will be displayed, both of which adds unwarranted legitimacy to the scam, according to the agency. The DEA unequivocally states that a DEA employee would not contact a DEA registrant to demand money or threaten to suspend his or her DEA registration.

Anyone contacted by a person who claims to work for the DEA while seeking money or threatening to suspend their DEA registration is urged to submit information through the agency's "Extortion Scam Online Reporting" tool, which can be found on the DEA Diversion Control Division webpage at DEAdiversion.usdoj.gov.

Plastic surgeons seeking more information should contact their local DEA field office by going to dea.gov, clicking on "About" and then selecting "Domestic Office Locations." The DEA Registration Service Center call be reached at 1-800-882-9539, or at dea.registration.help@usdoj.gov.