CHICAGO (WLS) -- Drug Enforcement Administration agents do stakeouts, undercover work, investigate the cartels, monitor legal narcotics and make arrests. They do not call you on the phone to announce you're under investigation, or demand gift cards and cash to avoid arrest.
It is a scam, which has been off and on for years across the country, and it is happening in Chicago.
A doctor at University of Chicago Medicine recently received such a call from an impostor DEA agent. Investigators said scammers tell medical employees they have violated federal drug laws or were involved in drug trafficking but can pay to get out of trouble.
In a memo obtained by the I-Team, University of Chicago officials warn medical staff not to engage callers who claim to be from the DEA; even if their caller ID shows the government agency.
DEA officials in Chicago told the I-Team their agency will never call you and ask for money.
"DEA personnel will never contact medical practitioners or members of the public by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment, nor to request any personal or sensitive information. Notification of a legitimate investigation or legal action is made via official letter or in-person only," they said.
It is not just doctors falling prey to this scheme. Scammers might also cold-call you. At University of Chicago, officials said the doctor recently contacted by a DEA impersonator was skeptical and did not fall for it. The best advice is to simply hang up on the call.
This scheme has been popular with foreign criminal organizations for nearly 20 years, some operating from the Dominican Republic according to federal investigators. After a resurgence last spring, the DEA sent out a warning to medical practitioners. Over the summer the Illinois State Medical Society issued an alert citing some of its members who had received calls.
The DEA says 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 at deadiversion.usdoj.gov, or by calling 877-792-2873 and that reporting scam calls will assist DEA in investigating and stopping this criminal activity.