Telephone customers who suddenly stop getting calls or are startled by an expensive bill could be victims of Cook County, Il., jail inmates, says the Chicago Tribune. The county sheriff’s office is investigating a scam prisoners may be running to use unwitting victims and their phone numbers to relay–and pay for–inmates’ calls. The trick involves getting someone the inmates call randomly from a jail pay phone to dial “*72” and then another phone number, which forwards incoming calls away from the victim’s number to the one the inmate gave.
Someone at the other number dialed after *72 can then accept collect calls, with the charge going to the victim’s number, setting up the phone relay system for an inmate or anyone else to use. It happened Sunday to an Indiana woman who took a call that showed up on her phone as originating at “Cook County Jail.” She got no message about it being a collect call from an inmate, just a voice saying he was “Sgt. Wilson.” “He said, `Your number has been found in somebody’s possession,'” the woman said. “He said, `You need to call this number and a Dr. Ross will explain.'”