Fake DEA agents calling people to steal money, personal information

Updated: Mar. 8, 2021 at 11:02 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials are warning people to watch out for telephone scammers posing as DEA agents.

The bogus agents are attempting to extort money or steal personal information, said DEA agents.

“Our office receives 3 – 5 calls a month from people all over the country, often moments after they have gotten off the phone with these con artists,” said Detroit Field Division Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin. “DEA personnel will never contact members of the public or medical practitioners by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment.

Brian McNeal is The DEA spokesperson over the Northeast Ohio area.

“I personally have been called, both on my personal phone and my phone issued by the DEA,” McNeal said. “This is not one guy making calls. This is a well-organized effort.”

McNeal says the DEA impersonator tends to tell people a car was rented in their name in another state, and that DEA agents found illegal drugs in it.

He says that part of the scam is not necessarily new, but criminals are going to new lengths to convince people that story is real.

Callers also use fake names and badge numbers as well as names of well-known DEA officials or police officers in local departments, said DEA agents.

Additionally, they may:

• use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak to or leave a message with anyone other than their targeted victim;

• threaten arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, and, in the case of medical practitioners and pharmacists, revocation of their DEA registration;

• demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or in the form of untraceable gift card numbers the victim is told to provide over the phone;

• ask for personal information, such as social security number or date of birth;

• reference National Provider Identifier numbers and/or state license numbers when calling a medical practitioner. They also may claim that patients are making accusations against that practitioner.

Anyone receiving a call from a person claiming to be with DEA should report the incident to the FBI at

For any victims who have given personally identifiable information like a social security number to the caller, learn how to protect against identity theft at

Copyright 2021 WOIO. All rights reserved.