Don't Waste Your Money: Prison inmate scam targets cell phones - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don't Waste Your Money: Prison inmate scam targets cell phones

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(Toledo News Now) - If you fall for the latest scam targeting your cell phone, you could be hit with hundreds of dollars in fraudulent charges. Sheriff's departments across the U.S. 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 the 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 voicemail, 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 nationwide are warning this scam, which has targeted landline phones for years, is now hitting cell phones too.

Inmates dial numbers, hoping to get someone to approve a collect call. If someone does, they hang up and then bill their long distance prison calls to that phone number.

Virginia Clemens has received similar calls.

"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," said Clemens. 

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.

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