Inmates at Miami-Dade jails have found a way hack into phone lines to make free collect phone calls.
As a result many unsuspecting citizens have been left footing the bill, according to the Miami Herald. Corrections say there is little they can do to stop the jail phone scam, which has cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The inmates have figured out a way to call a victim's fax number, which is then forwarded to their friend's home, and the friend accepts the call but does not have to pay the charges, officials said.
So far, Global Tel*Link, which operates jail collect- and prepaid-call systems has paid out $200,000 for bogus calls.
Inmates at the Miami-Dade jails have free access to banks of phones, and can only make collect or prepaid phone calls of up to 30 minutes.
Officials say, jail phone scams are not new and typically inmates pretend to be distressed and get the caller to dial *72 and another phone number to forward their call.
This new scam however, enables call forwarding without the consumer's knowledge.
Tracking down the girlfriends or friends who help who look in phone books for fax numbers to pass onto inmates is difficult, authorities said. In addition, many inmates use prepaid cell phones with numbers that eventually disappear.
Because the call forwarding is done through AT&T, Corrections says there is little they can do.
Investigators say they are unable prosecute violators for fraud and would need to prove the inmate arranged the scheme and actually made the calls.
Currently, the phone company says it is investigating.
- Miami-Dade inmates involved in collect call scheme (Miami Herald)
- Jailbirds Scam AT&T Customers (phoneplusmag)
- Inmates Scam Fax Lines To Get Free Calls (cbs4.com)