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Authorities warn consumers about telephone scam run from L.A. County jails

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is warning the public of a telephone scam being run out of county jail facilities by inmates.

The scam allows inmates to charge collect calls to unsuspecting consumers through the use of call forwarding, according to Deputy Robert Boese, and involves the use of the *72 function on telephones.

Here's how the ruse works: A person receives a telephone call from a person claiming to work for a public safety agency or hospital. The caller will claim that a relative of the recipient has been jailed or hurt in an accident, and then instructs him or her to call a telephone number that starts with the prefix *72 for more information.

The prefix activates the victim's call forwarding feature (if he or she is a subscriber). The victim's incoming calls are then forwarded to the telephone number that was provided by the scammer -- usually the number for a friend or relative of the inmate.

 "So if I'm an inmate, all I have to do is make a collect call to your number, which is forwarded to the other number," Boese said. "The person on the other line accepts the collect call and the fee goes to your phone bill."

The Sheriff's Department discovered the scam when deputies began receiving an increasing number of phone calls from people complaining of calls from the jail that appeared on their phone bills, authorities said.

The Sheriff's Department and the California Public Utilities Commission say the scam is not confined to L.A. County jails. They say con artists on the outside are also cheating telephone service subscribers.

Consumers can turn off the call forwarding feature by dialing prefix *73. Authorities also suggest that people call their phone companies and ask if they have call forwarding features.

People who have been victims of the scam are asked to report it to the California Public Utilities Commission's consumer hotline at (800) 649-7570.

-- Ruben Vives

Comments () | Archives (10)

Dear LA Times please don't censor my comments just because I do not agree with your ideology!

The LA County Jails are a reflection of the LA City Council, the Mayor, LAUSD and the way the city is run period!

why don't they just take the phones away from the cons? Why are the "Authorities" telling us to cramp our phone features?

Is this another example of unionized prison guards unwilling to be searched for phones without being paid overtime?

This happened to someone I know.........

Can someone tell me again - why do prisoners have access to phones???

Kind of amazing the Sheriff warns people of crimes originating in his jail instead of dealing with the crime.

It would seem to me that using phones for a scam like this should cause one to loose their phone privileges.

This is happening in EUROPE for some time now... I guess, somehow, new tehniques are circulating fast from prison to prison. Here in Romania an inmate can make between 500-1000 euros/day. I felt for that too 2 years ago :) It costed me 50 euros. But it's a nice story...After I realized what's happenin I begun talkin their slang (havin many friends icarcerated) and guess what:)) One of the guys (cause there were 2 of em) wanted to pay me back 10 times, he exuses himself, and even after we finished our conversation, he sent me an sms tellin' me somethin like "fo real man, anytime u need credit on your phone, just holler". :))) anyway, pay attention. Oh, and a question for the authorities: How come they get to have cell phones in prison? You all know what's happening...you hope to catch them with somethin else...but in the mean time, people get ripped off. so, for that too...Imma listen some NWA (guess what track I'll pick) :))

Another fine example of the work Sheriff Baca, and Chief Becks....and of course that Joke of a Media whore mayor we have....Great Work again, you are no better than those Bell crooks

The criminals will continue to commit crimes even while in jail....

Then when released they will continue to commit more crimes

This is no surprise

The travesty is that there are those out there who see nothing wrong with this

Maybe they should take away phone privileges.


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