Hacking their way into home fax lines, inmates in Miami-Dade jails are racking up tens of thousands of dollars in collect calls billed to unsuspecting citizens.
Recent victims include a South Florida federal judge, a Miami Herald columnist and the county architect who helped design a Miami-Dade jail.
Corrections officials say the inmates, with help from accomplices on the outside, have figured out how to forward collect calls through AT&T from a victim's fax line to the inmates' girlfriends, pals or relatives — who accept the calls but don't have to foot the bill.
Alabama-based Global Tel*Link, which operates jail collect- and prepaid-call systems nationwide, has reimbursed customers nearly $200,000 for bogus calls over the past two years, almost all in Miami-Dade.
The Miami-Dade Corrections department and GTL say they can do little to stop the scam because the call forwarding is done through AT&T.
"It's frustrating because our mission is to try and protect the community from these same individuals," Miami-Dade Corrections Director Tim Ryan said.
AT&T spokeswoman Kelly Layne Starling said the company is investigating. "AT&T takes such matters seriously and strives to prevent fraudulent use of the AT&T network by third parties," she said in a statement. She declined to answer questions.
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