The following excerpt describes a current scam involving fake online pharmacy sites run by criminals in the Dominican Republic (possibly New York as well). As embarrassing as this is for me to admit; I fell for this scam hook, line and sinker:
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers about a fraudulent scheme to extort money from consumers by callers who falsely identify themselves as "FDA special agents" or other FDA officials. Several instances have been reported to the FDA of calls enticing consumers to purchase discounted prescription drugs by wiring funds to one of several locations in the Dominican Republic. No medications are ever delivered.
A subsequent call is received from a fraudulent "FDA special agent" informing the consumer that a fine of several thousand dollars is required to be sent to an address in the Dominican Republic to prevent incarceration or other legal action.
"Impersonating an FDA official is a violation of federal law," said Michael Chappell, the FDA's acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "The public should note that no FDA official will ever contact a consumer by phone demanding money or any other form of payment. FDA officials always present identification in person when conducting official business."
Consumers should note that the fraudulent calls appear to be from telephone numbers located within the United States, but are in fact from either ported voice-over-the-Internet-protocol numbers (calls made directly from a computer and moved or "ported" to other computers to avoid detection) or cellular phones. Reports to FDA describe the callers as having Hispanic accents.
The scheme most likely began with the theft of personal information from consumers who previously purchased drugs via the Internet or telephone or who were victims of credit card fraud. "
www.pharmacy-leader.com is one of the sites run by these criminals. This is what happened to me:
- I went to www.pharmacy-leader.com and filled out their "secure" info request. Within 1 minute, I started receiving multiple calls from several "medical reps" supposedly from pharmacy-leader.com. They all informed me that; even though the site states that Visa credit cards are accepted, their credit card machine was down and that it would have to be done through Western Union. They offered me a "special discount" for using WU.
- All of the Reps seemed to be competing with one another for my business and they told me that they all worked for pharmacy-leader.com; but that they represented different pharmacies. Each one of them told me that they could get me a better deal than the others; and that I should only buy from them because they worked for commission and could give me more for my money.
- I ended up going with one of the "pharmacies" based in New York; since the other choices were all in the Dominican Republic. After I did the WU money transfer; I called the rep back to inform her that it was done and to get my tracking number. Her name (supposedly) was "Jessica Brown"; however the name I was instructed to put on the money transfer was "Edwin Vizcaino". She kept telling me that she was waiting on the shipping dept. to get the tracking number and that she would not leave the office until she called me with the tracking number.
- I waited and waited and got very nervous when I tried to reach her again later that night and got a recording telling me that the number was temporarily out of order! I then began receiving calls from the previous/first rep I had spoken; Peter, in the Dominican Republic. He informed me that his boss had contacted her boss; and that she was not an "authorized Medical Rep". He stated that she was a Customer Service Rep and that she was not supposed to take sales.
Peter then informed me that the New York pharmacy would be refunding my money transfer by mail and gave me a confirmation number for the refund. I asked him why they could not just send him the money order directly and have him ship my meds instead of making me do another money transfer.
I got very upset and told him I was getting a very bad feeling about the whole thing because I should not be the one forced to send another $300 money order for their mistake. He apologized and offered to give me 180-count instead of 90-count as a way to keep my business; but said that I would need to go ahead and make another WU money transfer to them so that they could process the order properly and get it shipped out that night. His "Manager" called me as well to reassure me that I would be refunded and then provided me with a shipping confirmation code for my records.
Stupidly; I wired the 2nd $300 payment and the next morning I awaited the shipment. I started receiving calls from their "shipping" department that night and was informed that the package had been placed on "hold" for some odd reason at the FedEx location near my house. She told me she would take care of the problem and get it to me ASAP.
About 10 mins later; I got a call from a number that appeared to be from their shipping dept based on the fact that the area code was the same; and only the last 2 digits were different. When I picked it up; however, the caller identified herself as being a "Special Agent" with the DEA. She had a distinct Hispanic accent; exactly like ALL of the individuals I had spoken with thus far.
She basically began to tell me that my package was intercepted by U.S. officials and that I was being charged with: Possession of Controlled Substance; Possession with intent to distribute and aiding and abetting a terrorist group from the Dominican Republic. She went on to tell me that a task force had been dispatched to monitor my home and my phones; and that they were going to come and arrest me. I was then going to be transported to New York and would be indicted and then would be forced to stand trial in both the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. I would be sentenced to 10-15 yrs in prison in the Dominican Republic; etc. . . and then it happened -- I was offered a way out; a way to make this whole situation go away! All I was required to do, she said, was pay a "fine" of $10,000.00 -- what a deal!! When I started crying and told her that I could not pay that kind of money; she started telling me to pawn my jewelry and wedding ring; and to take out a payday loan!! What the hell kind of government official would say this sh*t!?!?
The calls began to come in from other "officials" and "secret agents"; all of whom were telling me different stories about needing my help to bust a drug cartel or illegal pharmacy; etc. . . BUT whoever they tried to pass themselves off as and whatever excuse or scenario they tried to give me -- in the end they all just wanted me to send MORE money AND via Western Union again!
The threats and harassing phone calls went on for almost a week. I would get very upset when they called and sometimes cry and ask them to leave me alone. Then; I realized that I just needed to call them out on the scam. So; the last 3 phone calls I received from them I responded to by saying; " Look; I know ALL about the scam you are running; and I am NOT falling for it anymore -- you better move on because I am not ever gonna send u another dime. No matter what. One of them tried to threaten me again and I told her that I wanted her to send those "special force agents" that she claimed had been surrounding my house a few days earlier and she had better send them right now or I would know she was nothing but a fraud.
Each time I got a call from them; I would describe in detail what; where; and how they did what they did. It has been 6 days since I last got a phone call from any of them and I have documented all of the phone numbers; names that were given (which most all are fakes I am sure) and where and who I wired the money via Western Union.
In all; I lost about $650 but I do NOT consider myself a victim in any way; shape or form and it was my own fault for allowing myself to fall for a scam. I am not an ignorant person; in fact; I am quite the opposite so I should have known better. My only consolation is the hope that; by telling my story, I might be able to save someone from a similar fate. Thank you.