SCAM ALERT: AG Carr and Department of Corrections Warn About Inmate Phone Scams

February 14, 2018

ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr and Commissioner of the Department of Corrections Greg Dozier are warning Georgians to be on the lookout for phone scams that may be a result of illicit use of contraband cell phones by inmates in Georgia prisons.

“We are warning all Georgians to be on the lookout for phone scams, and in particular, those facilitated by prison gangs and incarcerated con-men looking to cheat honest people out of their hard-earned money,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Commissioner Dozier and the Department of Corrections work every day to crack down on the use of contraband cell phones, and we will continue to work together to protect our fellow Georgians and keep them informed and ahead of the inmate schemes.”

“In the fourth quarter of this fiscal year alone, we have seized more than 1,400 contraband cell phones from our facilities,” said Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier. “Those with criminal intentions are getting bolder, and as our staff continues to combat this type of behavior inside our correctional facilities, we want Georgians to remain aware and alert when talking to unidentified callers.”

What are the most common phone scams?

Officer Impersonation Scam:

  • Scammers will impersonate law enforcement officials and claim you have an active warrant for your arrest.
  • To avoid further fines and/or jail time, scammers ask that you forward money.
  • Most often, they ask you to load the money onto pre-paid debit cards such as Greendot cards, Rush Cards or others where money can be loaded and sent to an address.
  • These addresses are often P.O. boxes that are not tied directly to them. 
  • Scammers may also ask for your account number or other personal information and will try to keep you on the phone until this information is provided.
  • In many cases if they can get you to make an initial payment, they will continue to ask for money periodically claiming additional fines or fees have come up. 

What to know:

  • Law enforcement will not call you in most cases if a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
  • Criminal cases need to be investigated meaning you would have had some form of contact with law enforcement prior to any warrant being issued for you.
  • Additionally, law enforcement will never allow for arrangements to be made over the phone to clear a warrant and will not take any forms of payment over the phone for warrants. 
  • A real warrant is a court ordered document ordering any and all law enforcement agencies to arrest the named person, so they can appear before a judge and answer for the given charge.
  • A warrant cannot be cleared due to payment. 

Jury Duty Scam:

  • This is one of the most common types of scams were scammers pose as law enforcement officials.
  • This type of scam is similar to officer impersonation scams in that the scammer claims a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
  • The scammer then may ask the victim for confidential information for “verification” purposes such as Social Security number, date of birth and in some cases credit card information.
  • This personal information could be used to open new accounts and/or apply for credit cards.

What to know:

  • Court workers will never call you to ask for social security numbers and other private information.
  • Most courts issue follow-up mail, and they rarely, if ever, call prospective jurors.

Bill Collector Scam:

  • Scammers will pose as bill collectors and ask you to verify your personal information and/or make a payment for an outstanding balance.
  • The most common form of this scam is where they pose as a cell phone provider attempting to collect back payment on an outstanding bill.
  • Many times they will ask you to give your date of birth and Social Security number to verify who you are.
  • They then attempt to get you to send them money.

What to know:

  • Cell phone providers may call to receive payment.
  • You will often get a text or letter in the mail notifying you of a balance on your account.
  • An easy way to defeat this scam is to not give out your information or make any payments on that call and to simply call your cell phone provider yourself to discuss your account.

Who are the scammers?

Gangs often use scams as a way to fund their criminal activity. It is also important to keep in mind that scams are not just done by gang members. Lone wolves who talk fast and have no gang ties also use scams to prey on credulous people and make quick money.

What are the common ways scams are facilitated?

Applications:

  • Scammers are using apps such as caller ID faker, spoof call fake, fake caller ID and spoof card to disguise their numbers.
  • These apps are promoted as prank apps or a means to protect your identity, but they are often used by scammers to trick people into thinking a call is coming from an official number.
  • For example, a scammer could make their number look as if it was being made from a local police or sheriff’s department by using one of these apps.

Out of State Calls:

  • Many scammers target people from other states in an attempt to make there scams harder to track by police.
  • Or, a scammer will call their cell phone provider and ask them to change the area code of the device that they are calling from to that of a state or area they are targeting. Seeing an out of state number often times gives people pause, and the theory behind changing the area code is that seeing an in state or in area number may not raise suspicion.