How the scam works:
While there have been many documented cases of various scams being run by inmates in prison, ironically, this scam is being perpetrated against the families of current prison inmates.
The inmate release scam targets inmates’ loved ones, who receive a telephone call from someone who claims to be from the prison office, offering to assist the family in securing release of the inmate. The caller (who could even be a jail inmate himself calling from prison, so you can see the name of the institution on your phone display) will advise the family to submit one or two large payments to their officer.
They tell the family that once payment has been received, their loved one will be released from prison or will have his sentence reduced; however, the release never occurs and the family is now poorer for their efforts.
How to avoid:
It is important to remember that, if you have a loved one who is currently incarcerated, the only way that they will be released is by obtaining parole, serving out their sentence, or being released on probation or on a reversal of charges. There is never a situation where a prisoner will be released if their family pays a large sum of money. Also, be wary of any request to send money to an unknown source via wire transfer, through Western Union or MoneyMart; it is likely that you will never receive the service or item for which you’ve paid.
If you do receive a call such as this, contact the Department of Corrections where your loved one is incarcerated and report the scam details to them.