FBI Portland
Beth Anne Steele
(503) 460-8099
May 1, 2018

FBI Tech Tuesday—Building a Digital Defense Against Prescription Drug Fraud

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week, building a digital defense against prescription drug fraud.

For many families, the cost of buying needed prescription drugs can be a huge burden to bear. And, whether you are desperate to lower your expenses or just looking to save a few bucks, online pharmacies can look attractive.

Many such pharmacies operate legally and can offer big savings to senior citizens, chronically ill people, and others. But, our friends at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warn that there are many rogue outfits out there that will end up hurting you more than they help. These pharmacies or websites will claim to sell prescription meds at deeply discounted prices, and they sometimes won’t even require a prescription. Often they display a Canadian flag to appear legitimate, but many times they are operating out of third countries with no ties to the U.S. or Canada.

These counterfeit prescription drugs may be contaminated or contain the wrong ingredients or no active ingredient at all. They also could have the right active ingredient but with the wrong dosage.

Tips for Avoiding Counterfeit Prescription Drugs:

  • Don’t buy from pharmacies that do not require a valid prescription.
  • Don’t buy if the pharmacy doesn’t have a U.S. state-licensed pharmacist available to answer questions.
  • Check to see if the pharmacy itself is licensed in your state. In Oregon, you can check through the Oregon Board of Pharmacy (at https://obop.oregon.gov/LicenseeLookup/).
  • Be wary of the businesses that do not use a legitimate street address in the U.S. Check to make sure that the address doesn’t belong to a re-shipper or package facility.
  • Consult your pharmacist or physician if your prescription drug looks suspicious.
  • Alert your pharmacist and physician immediately if your medication causes adverse side effects or if your condition does not improve.
  • Be aware that product promotions, special cost reductions, and other “special deals” may be associated with counterfeit products.

If you have been victimized by this scam or any other online scam, you can file an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.