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Prescription Drug Abuse Scams?Part 2

Cmdr John Burke
Published Online: Tuesday, June 1, 2004   [ Request Print ]

The following is a continuation of last month's article on the ingenuity of those who become prescription drug seekers.

Working at an Answering Service

An inventive person who had a heavy addiction to hydrocodone sought out a job at a physicians' answering service. He would typically work the second shift, and after a few days of learning the ropes he would begin his prescription drug scam.

He would call in prescriptions to various pharmacies, posing as one of the doctors who had subscribed to the answering service where he was employed. He had visited so many physicians in the area that he had no problem finding one who subscribed to the answering service and whose Drug Enforcement Administration number he knew.

After calling in the hydrocodone prescriptions to local pharmacies from his workstation, he would then wait an hour to see which pharmacies, if any, had someone call the answering service in an attempt to verify the prescriptions. Although he was not the only operator, he could view the activity on his computer screen if someone else took the call. He would then send an accomplice in to the pharmacies from which no one had tried to verify the prescription.

Attending Open Houses

A young woman who also was addicted to hydrocodone found that other people's bathrooms were great places to pick up prescription drugs. She discovered as well that weekends were the most popular times for realtors to have an open house at one of their listed properties.

She would attend as many of the open houses as she could each weekend in various parts of the area. While touring the house, she would ultimately go into the bathroom, shut the door, and rummage through the medicine cabinet or closet. She often would find prescription drugs of abuse and would leave with the entire bottle.

This woman attended many open houses over a period of time, and realtors' clients reported their drugs missing. Finally, a couple of attentive realtors recognized the frequent open house attendee and obtained her vehicle license number. She was eventually confronted, and she confessed to the crimes. She had been in so many homes that she was unable to give an accurate number of pills she had stolen.

John Burke, director of the Warren County, Ohio, drug task force and retired commander of the Cincinnati Police Pharmaceutical Diversion Squad, is a 32-year veteran of law enforcement. For information, he can be reached by e-mail at burke@choice.net, via the Web site www.rxdiversion.com, or by phone at 513-336-0070.

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