Phone Scams in Jefferson County

A few weeks ago we warned you about a phone scam in which inmates take advantage of unsuspecting residents and rack up huge phone bills on their account. Now, the scam has spread from Leon County to Jefferson County, and in and around Monticello, there may be as many as 60 victims.

Brenda Larry is the kitchen supervisor at the Jefferson County Jail. You can imagine her surprise when an inmate from south Florida tried to swindle her into forwarding his call.

"I hear a voice saying this is a call from a correctional facility and about that time in the background I focus on someone yelling, 'Please answer this call, it's an emergency'. In a split second, I realized, no, and I hung up," says Brenda.

Edna Eleazer got a similar call and says had she not read about this scam in the local paper, she might have been caught off guard too.

"I thought it may have been one of my children. I have five children in all different states and I thought one of them was in trouble, that was my first thought, but when I heard her say 'Corrective Institute" I knew what it was and I hung up immediately," says Edna Eleazer.

Sheriff's investigators say there may be as many as 60 potential victims in Jefferson County. The sheriff has traced the calls to Miami-Dade, but that's where he runs in to a dead end.

"It's not like Jefferson County. Dade County has a lot of inmates and it's kind of hard for them to track this stuff. This is an inmate phone system right here. It can be done from this phone right here," says Ken Fortune, Jefferson County Sheriff.

The trouble isn't accepting a collect call from an inmate, it's when he or she convinces you to forward that call to another number that you can be left vulnerable to huge phone bills.