Fraud alert: Prisoners using smuggled phones to carry out scam

ATLANTA — Metro Atlanta’s top federal prosecutor is issuing a warning to all Georgians.

He says a growing number of state prisoners are using smuggled cellphones to carry out an elaborate scam.

United States Attorney Bjay Pak says the pervasive scam targets north Georgia’s federal jury pool.

"This is very serious," Pak told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Aaron Diamant. "They target anyone they can get ahold of."


Basically, it starts with a phone call from someone claiming the person who answered the phone missed a jury summons.

The person is told there’s a warrant out and they’ll be arrested if they don’t pay a steep fine.

“The perpetrators are in state prison right now,” Pak said.

Chief Deputy District Court Clerk Kevin Weimer said the scam is preventable.

“The biggest red flag in these scams is that the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Marshal’s Office are not going to call you, or send you an email demanding that you pay them money or provide a gift card number or else you’re going to be arrested,” Weimer said. “That’s not how it works.”

According to Pak, scammers have been caught, and his office has also prosecuted jailers and prison workers for smuggling in phones.

“Let that be a lesson. We’re certainly looking at people who are facilitating this type of fraud,” Pak said.

Authorities are urging anyone who gets or falls victims to the calls to come forward.

“Every little piece of evidence that we can get helps us track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” Pak said.