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.

Cellphone Ringing

Jalaine Barth says her cellphone 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 one 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 cellphones 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 three months, I had people calling me as early as 8 in the morning, as late as 11 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 one or two 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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