for immediate release
December 29, 2004

N E W S   R E L E A S E

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office warns citizens about collect calls from jail inmates. Hundreds of citizens have reported receiving such calls since late September. The vast majority of the calls originate from the Miami-Dade County jail system, where some inmates have developed skills as masters of prank calls.

            Typically, the inmates dial random numbers, or sequences of numbers, talking to anybody who accepts the collect call. All calls from inmates are collect. The practice has been known to exist for several years, but during the past three months, an extraordinary number of calls have been made into the 850- area code, especially to residents of Okaloosa County and vicinity.

            When a call is accepted, the inmate attempts to trick the recipient into dialing a code, usually beginning with *72 or *721, which would forward the telephone line to a subscriber in south Florida who is an accomplice of the inmate. The jail inmate could then access 1-900 sex lines or make other calls on the unsuspecting citizen's phone bill.

            Several different cover stories are used by the inmates involved in the prank, including posing as a police officer attempting to make an emergency notification of a serious traffic crash.

            The holiday weekend may provide an opportunity for the jail-call pranksters to seek additional victims.

            Citizens receiving unexpected collect calls from jail may either hang up without accepting the call, or may dial "5" to lock out future calls from the same jail pay phone. Anyone call-forwarding their phone line under such circumstances should cancel the call-forwarding by dialing *73, or 73#, and should contact their long-distance carrier.


for more information contact Rick Hord, Public Information Officer

(850) 651-7420