FDA warns of credit card scams

The latest online scam involving fraudulent credit card charges has been revealed by an unlikely source: the Food and Drug Administration. In a statement to reporters, FDA officials detailed the results of their investigation into cyber-criminals who falsely portray themselves as FDA inspectors assessing fines on individual consumers.

In most cases, the scam starts when a consumer places an order through an online pharmaceutical website. Previous credit card fraud schemes used similar sites to collect account numbers and personal details from would-be customers. However, according to FDA investigators, criminals would contact the customers by phone or e-mail, claiming to have caught them in the act of placing an illegal order.

After that, investigators claim, the phony agency representatives issue a false citation for hundreds or thousands of dollars, payable by Western Union. In the most extreme cases, criminals posed as corrupt FDA investigators willing to accept cash bribes in return for destroying evidence. Ordering from unlicensed pharmacies can be risky enough, with scammers often fulfilling requests with lookalike substances. However, according to FDA spokesperson Dana Corrigan, no FDA employee can issue citations or collect fines.