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 Snopes.com, 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.