Friday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, issued a warning to consumers about phony FDA warning letters that are apparently being send to people who bought (or tried to buy) prescription medications online. The fake letters, said the agency in its press release about the matter, are possibly part of a worldwide attempt to blackmail consumers.
FDA warning letters are, of course, very real–as anyone who reads LisaBarger.com regularly knows. But FDA typically sends such warnings to companies accused of wrongdoing. The agency rarely contacts the customers of such companies.
If you have purchased medications from an online pharmacy and get a formal warning letter from FDA it is almost certainly a scam, says FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “Consumers who aren’t involved in manufacturing or distributing FDA regulated products should be on alert that if you get an FDA warning letter, it’s probably fake, and probably a scam,” he says.
Gottlieb also took a moment to remind consumers that online sellers of prescription medications are almost always buying from a company that is running an illegal business. “We understand the temptation to buy online, and there are ways to do it safely, including only buying from U.S.-licensed pharmacies that require a prescription,” he added.
And it isn’t just the FDA’s name that’s being invoked. Some letters have claimed to be from the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC. Some of the bogus warning letters have claimed to be issued as a joint FDA/FTC investigation.
Fortunately, the authors of these letters are just as sloppy, or as ignorant of basic grammar and spelling, as the scammers behind those Nigerian inheritance scam letters. They may or may not include your actual name and are often rife with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.