Fake DEA scam alive in the Valley

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Liz Johnson is a well-educated nurse who started her career back in the 1980's.
She's far from being the person who you would think could fall for a scam that started with a phone call.

"The gentleman identified himself as Sgt. Anthony with the DEA, Federal DEA," Johnson said.

The DEA agent told Johnson she had been under investigation for ordering prescription drugs over the Internet a few years ago.
Johnson said his demeanor was very convincing, very authoritative, and almost harsh sounding.

Johnson remembered ordering something off the Internet.  What convinced her the phone call was legitimate was that the so-called federal agent had other convincing information about her.  Such as a previous home address and old credit card information.

"I became very frightened," Johnson said. "My heart started racing and I'm starting to cry. I felt a little bit of panic."

The agent told Johnson she was charged with several drug violations, but she could take care of the serious charges by paying $3,000 in fines. And if she didn't?
"He said they would storm my house and take me to jail," Johnson said. "And I would be there until this got cleared up."

Johnson said she didn't have $3,000, but she had $500, which she sent to the agent and later realized the whole ordeal was a scam.

"I avoided scams before," Johnson said.  "But this one just over took my reason."

The real Drug Enforcement Agency posted a warning on their website and called it an "Extortion Scam" that people shouldn't fall for. But, they do. 

In fact, the Internet has thousands of victims, some who have recorded the fake DEA agents making threats and demanding money.

Johnson said it's a hard learned lesson and wants other people to know not to fall victim to the lies and intimidation.

"I was relieved," Johnson said. "Then I became angry and embarrassed, you know?  I never thought I would fall for something like that."

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the real DEA wants to hear from you.  They have a designated Extortion Hotline found below.