It can be tough for families with a loved one behind bars. Now scammers are looking to cash in on their desperation.
“So what they’ll do is they’ll call posing as an employee of the prison or the jail, stating that, for a fee, your relative, your loved one can be released for early parole or early probation,” says Sgt. Joe Mahoney with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
They’ll tell you to get a prepaid debit card, or green dot card or wire them the money. They might even tell you, you have to pay for their transportation or for clothing for their re-entry to the real world. But just know, if they ask for money, it’s a scam.
“The only way someone can get out of jail is finishing their sentence, be paroled or given probation by a judge, or ultimately be pardoned by a governor or the president.”
And usually you think of scammers as being overseas, but this scammer is usually much closer to home.
“Oftentimes what we find is it’s either a current or former inmate in a prison system that’s somehow smuggled in a phone. Unfortunately in some cases, especially in the larger prison systems, you have actual employees and guards that are participating in this scam.”
Inmate information is also public record, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone connected with the jail. Just be wary if you ever get that call—and never give your personal information over the phone.