Inmate phone scam picking up steam

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - We first warned you last week, but now, an inmate phone scam is picking up a lot of steam.

They are locked up, but that is not stopping them from trying to scam you. Randy Osborne and Stephanie Frazier know first hand. They both received back-to-back calls Monday night.

"It was a computer operator," said Stephanie Frazier. "It wasn't a real person."

"It said you have a collect call from the Harris County Jail," said Osborne.

But, at this point, the Better Business Bureau says, hang up. The BBB says by accepting, inmates can make personal calls at your expense with their long distance calls being charged to your phone bill, which can easily run up hundreds of dollars.

"It's called custom forward calling and it basically links your number to the number that is being dialed from," said Mechele Agbayani with the BBB.

"It's really kind of scary to me," said Osborne. "I do have a teenage daughter and fortunately she knows not to accept those types of phone calls but others may not and it could wind up with big charges to their phone."

We learned through the BBB, that the Harris County Jail recently added pay phones to every jail cell. It is a privilege, some East Texans say, is being abused.

"[It's] very frustrating," said Frazier. "Our money's tight anyway, everybody right now in this economy."

"It almost looks to me like inmates are getting a whole lot smarter than what they used to be," said Osborne. "Being able to go in and know how to manipulate this phone system and how to just get these random phone numbers."

Remember, dialing *72 before a number activates your call forward feature, making you vulnerable to this type of scam. These inmates are calling from a 713 area code. If you have accepted charges, you're asked to report the abuse to the BBB, the Harris County Sheriff's Department and also your phone service provider.

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