Scammers using real jail number, name to target recently released inmates

KOKOMO, Ind. -- An unusual scam is making the rounds in central Indiana, and it's not the first time.

This week, a victim reported the scam to the Better Business Bureau of central Indiana's Scam Tracker.

Just two days after the victim was released from jail on bond, someone called and used the name of a real jail employee. The person said the victim "owed $1,500 more or they would revoke (his) bond," according to the report.

"He then told me he would call me from the jail's phone number to verify his legitimacy," the victim said. "The incoming call showed up as the correct number for the Howard County Jail. He said I couldn't go to the jail or call the jail back to verify and threatened to revoke my bond immediately."

"When they said, in this particular case, that he was not to call back the number and verify it, that’s a real red flag right there," BBB CEO Tim Maniscalo said.

Maniscalo said the scam stuck out, but FOX59 found that it is not new. The Howard  County Sheriff reported it to us a year ago, at the time with a different employee's name being spoofed.

In an email, Sheriff Steven Rogers said "these scams are varied in details but have continued for several years. The perpetrators are very creative and (these) are taking place everywhere. ...we are now discussing how to best warn those individuals released from jail of this recent scam."

Maniscalo said another tip-off to the scam is the way the victim was told to pay. The scammers asked for his credit card number, but then said he needed to go to Walgreens and pay in Green Dot money.

"It’s just like giving them cash. ... Once that transaction is made, it’s nearly impossible to trace that money," Maniscalo said.

The victim figured out the scam wasn't real by going to the jail to verify it. He also said "during the phone call, I could hear what sounded like a police radio and him talking to other 'police officers.'"

If you get a call like this, be sure to report it to your local Sheriff's department.