DEA warns of scammers out to get money, information

August 15, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The scams are elaborate and have just enough details to scare would-be victims.

They seem to have found information about those who have bought prescription drugs or vitamins online.

A suburban woman says she once bought prenatal vitamins online and this week she found herself in a scary situation.

The first thing you notice about Julie Patterson is that she's due in a couple of months. Earlier this week she says a call put her and the baby in jeopardy.

"To where I couldn't breathe, to where I almost passed out, to where my baby isn't moving because I'm so stressed out," Patterson said.

Patterson says someone called from Maryland area code claiming to be a federal DEA agent, claiming an online drug purchase had resulted in a warrant for her arrest and that agents were coming to her home if she didn't answer his questions.

"That's when I got really nervous," she said. My kids were home with our nanny and I got really concerned for their safety."

After calling 911, getting the kids out of the house and seeking medical help, she discovered a DEA warning about a scam.

"What they try to do is basically scare the heck out of innocent citizens to make them think the DEA has a major investigation on them, and to avoid incarceration and arrest, you can simply send them money to pay as a fine," said Jack Riley US Drug Enforcement Agency, Special Agent in Charge. "Clearly, we don't operate that way.

Chicago's Special Agent in Charge for the DEA says there have been dozens of reports about these scams in our area. Many more across the country using the DEA name to get personal information and sometimes money.

"No DEA agent would ever call you and ask you for information or money over the phone, it's not going to happen," Riley said.

Patterson was grateful to have access to resources quickly in this case. And she hopes others to be skeptical of calls from federal agents looking for information.

"It's horrible," she said. "It's absolutely horrible. It's wrong on so many levels."

Last month, special agent Riley says a local man paid $6,000 to scammers claiming to be special agent riley.

When the scammers called back for more money, the man added Riley into the conference call.

Riley says they did not sound like Chicagoans.

The DEA investigation has tracked these scams to the Dominican Republic and South America.

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