With an illegal cell phone and a number of “secret shoppers”, an inmate at the nation’s largest single federal prison was able to run a $1 million fraud operation in the outside world. The inmate spent up to 17 hours a day directing operations and gleaning information.
He would call directory assistance to ask for the numbers of people with similar names to those he knew on the outside. Then he would call those people, posing as an employee of various service providers like the utility or cable companies. He would attempt to wrangle a small bit of personal information, a birth date or social security number, from the unsuspecting person.
Armed with this information, he would call credit card companies pretending to be a fraud investigator. He would turn this small scrap of information into more and more details. If someone became suspicious, he would simply hang up and begin again later. Once he has sufficient information, he would again call the credit card company to have one of his shoppers added to an account as an approved user. These shoppers would purchase good and sell them to pre-arranged buyers for around half of their value.
An Ohio detective unraveled the case while investigating a local shopping incident involving one of the inmate’s operatives. The inmate has since been convicted and he has been labeled a “severe phone abuser”, limiting his calling privileges.