‘DEA' phone scam tries to extort thousands from woman

As posted on August 8, 2011 on www.ajc.com

By David Ibata

Paulding County authorities are warning the public about phone scam involving online prescriptions that recently tried to coerce a local resident into paying thousands of dollars, Channel 2 Action News reports.

The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office said a man called county resident Karen Gulledge claiming to be a special agent of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Gulledge told Channel 2 that the man said an illegal shipment of prescription drugs addressed to her home had been intercepted in the Dominican Republic. The caller told the woman she faced years of prison time if she didn’t pay a fine.

“I was scared to death,” Gulledge said. “I was like, ‘Do I need to get an attorney?’”

Gulledge hung up and called the authorities. They told her someone had just tried to scam her.

Investigators said an international extortion ring seeks to prey on the elderly and those who order prescriptions from online sites. A victim is told to wire thousands of dollars to pay a fine. The calls mostly originate in the Dominican Republic but show up as U.S. numbers on caller I.D.

Legitimate law enforcement officers would “never contact you over the phone asking for money,” said Paulding Sheriff’s Sgt. Brandon Gurley.

Gurley also cautioned people against dialing a call-back number the scammers might leave. Individuals could be billed $50 to $100 per minute for the call.