Prison inmate scam targeting cellphones

Don't Waste Your Money

Sheriff's departments across the US are warning  that a new version of an old scam is popping up everywhere.

It concerns a phone scam. But this time it's no longer just the old kitchen phone ringing at dinner time: it could be your iPhone or Android.

Cell Phone Ringing

Jalaine Barth says her cell phone recently started ringing at all times of day, with strange  phone calls from someone in a jail somewhere.

"At first I ignored it, but they kept calling repeatedly," Barth said. "They would go to voice mail, but they kept calling repeatedly.

After a while Barth decided to answer, worried a grandson may have been arrested. "I thought maybe it's a family member in trouble," she said.

So she listened to the recording, which urged her to "press 1 to receive a collect call from an inmate".

Suspicious, she Googled the 912 phone number calling her, learned it was an area code from Georgia, and found complaints saying it was a scam.

How the Scam Works

Sheriff's departments across the country are warning that this scam -- which has targeted land line phones for years -- is now hitting cell phones too.

Inmates dial numbers, hoping to get someone to approve a collect call.

If you do, they hang up  and then bill their long distance prison calls to your phone number.

Virginia Clemens has received similar calls, saying "over 3 months, I had people calling me as early as 8:00 in the morning, as late as 11:00 at night, didn't matter if it was on the weekend or holiday, I still got calls."

What You Can Do

If they continue, the only solution is to ask your provider to block that number, or block all collect calls.

Sometimes the automated caller asks you to press 1 or 2 to take the call, other times to hang up, then dial "72" followed by a number they give you.

Either way, you will run up a huge collect call bill.

If you worry it's a family member, hang up and call some family members: Chances are they will all be home safe.

As always, don't waste your money

Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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