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Call forwarding scam a favorite for inmates

Call forwarding scam a favorite for inmates

(Scams) Permanent link

Inmates have discovered a sneaky way to trick consumers into paying for long-distance phone calls – often to foreign countries. The "call forwarding" or "*72" scam has been around for years but many consumers don’t know about it.

Cons call you from the jail phone and get you to punch in *72 followed by a phone number. This allows their long distance phone calls to go over your line! The Wisconsin State Patrol issued a warning this week after several consumers there received calls from inmates at a Chicago jail. Posing as state troopers, they claimed that a relative of the consumer was in trouble and gave dialing instructions.

In another version of the scam, described on, the inmate claims to have been arrested for a minor traffic infraction and need to call a relative to pick up his children from the police station. Supposedly, the scammer has misdialed and can’t place another call because the police will only allow one. He pleads with the victim to help him complete the call by simply forwarding him to the correct number. However, by dialing *72, the victim’s phone is set to forward all subsequent incoming calls to another number. The inmate then uses the phone as a relay for expensive collect calls, sticking the consumer with the bill.

Posted by AGO Blog Moderator at 07/09/2008 04:56:34 PM | 

i keep getting these calls (7) and have been charged even though i didn't call the number. could something voice activate this? today i got a recording from a toll-free number about my prison account. i calld and they said they would block these calls for me. i hung up. are they legit? other alls say someone's been in an accident - oficer smith, badge number, etc. he wanted me to dial a long number to speal to his commaner and he would call me back.
Posted by: judy ( Email ) at 9/12/2008 10:23 AM

Hello Judy,

From what you’ve described, it certainly sounds like cons have your number!

I don’t know exactly what is going on with your phone, but you should definitely contact your phone company immediately to 1) reverse any unauthorized charges and 2) ensure your calls aren’t being forwarded.

Also, are you certain the number you called was really toll-free? Calls to 800 and 888 numbers are almost always free ( there are some exceptions) but cons sometimes encourage individuals to call other numbers that aren’t really toll-free. While calls to most foreign countries require dialing 011, a country code, a city code, and then the number, calls to Canada and some parts of the Caribbean can be reached by dialing the same number of digits as in the U.S. The 809 area code in the Dominican Republic is an example.

Once the victim places a call, he is usually connected to a recorded message or a pay-per-call service. The scammer's foreign phone company then bills the victim’s local phone company.

Don’t return any more calls from so-called “officers” and certainly don’t call any number that someone tells you to – especially a long-distance number that could be very costly. If you believe that a law enforcement officer is trying to contact you, then please contact the law enforcement agency directly using a number from your phone directory.


Posted by: Kristin Alexander ( Email ) at 9/15/2008 11:28 AM

The safest way for an inmate to call home is by using Unfortunately, there are a lot of inmate calling scams out there. Thankfully, we're an FCC registered company that's safe for any family member and can help them save a lot of money!
Posted by: ( Email ) at 12/26/2014 1:16 PM

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