To our physician clients and friends:We want to let you know about a phony DEA agent scam that was attempted on one of our physician clients the other day. Our client texted one of our partners, advising that he was on the phone with a person who represented herself as a DEA agent, who was calling to inform the physician that his license was going to be immediately suspended and he was going to be arrested. We were able to instantly conference into the call with the “DEA agent” and physician. The “DEA agent” identified herself with a DEA badge number, case number and the actual DEA main number as her contact number. Upon our pointed questioning, it became apparent that the “DEA agent” was operating from a script and was unable to maintain the ruse. The conversation did not get much further along, but appeared to be for the purpose of getting personal information for identity theft or to extort money from the doctor. This is the second call of the same type in the last few weeks in which we have intervened. It appears that the scammers are going down a list based on the physicians’ NPI numbers. The real DEA is aware of the scam and has published a press release which may be found at https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubs/pressreleases/extortion_scam.htm. If you get a call from a person identifying himself or herself as an agent of the DEA, Social Security Administration or other government agency, there are several things to keep in mind:
- While somewhat self-evident, most people tend to panic when they are threatened by a law enforcement figure;
- The DEA does not call you to tell you that it is suspending your license (which it can’t do anyway) or call you to let you know you are being arrested. Rather, agents will show up at your door and threaten to do all that in person;
- The DEA, Social Security Administration and other government agencies do not call individuals to ask them to provide personal information, i.e.: date of birth, bank account numbers, etc. or seek a payment of a fine or penalty over the phone; and
- A similar scam has also been happening with people calling claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. That agency has a recording on its main telephone number warning about the scam and advising where to report it.
- If you are able to do so, call or text your legal counsel (preferably at Lubell | Rosen) while you are on the call, so counsel can conference into the call;
- Tell the caller emphatically that you do not consent to having the call recorded; and
- If you are unable to get legal counsel on the call, refer the caller to your legal counsel. (A real government agent may not like the referral, but will understand that is what you should do.) Then, decline to provide any information until after you speak with your legal counsel.