Wrong numbers

When I came to the US, I swapped my NZ sim card for an American one. After taking advice from my well travelled niece, it seemed like the best option and it has been great. I have an American cell number that is accepted by rental companies and online shopping sites and there is no chance of random calls from home that cost me an arm and a leg.

I haven’t given my new phone number to many people so I have been surprised at the number of times my phone has rung. One caller is particularly persistent. The call goes like this:

“An offender at a correctional facility placed a call collect to this number that was not completed due to billing restrictions. If you wish to receive these calls please contact your credit card provider or prepaid account holder. If you do not wish to accept these calls, please ignore this massage.”

Some wrong numbers I wouldn’t mind. Like the one from someone like British astronaut Tim Peake who misdialled from the International Space Station and asked  “Is this planet Earth?”. I would happily have taken that call. Mine was not half as exciting but nonetheless I was tempted to accept it imagining that anyone calling from a correctional facility would have something interesting to say – too much Orange is the New Black – but I didn’t. I ignored the calls and when I realised how persistent the caller was, I blocked them.

More than likely it’s a scam. I googled it and it’s a thing. When an inmate is allowed to make phone calls, they dial random numbers until they find somebody willing to help. As soon as the victim answers, the scammer spins an emotional story followed by a request to make phone call on their behalf because, of course,  the number is impossible to reach from prison or they are not allowed to call cell phones. People fall for this scam as they think they are doing a good deed but in reality, what happens is that when they dial the number provided it’s just call-forwarding their own telephone lines. After getting the victim to forward the number, the scammer can call anywhere he wants without being charged. It seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a free phone call but I guess there’s not much to do in a correctional facility.

And then yesterday, I got a text from someone called Summer who I have never met. She wanted to speak to her dad and she didn’t believe me when I texted back to tell her that she had the wrong number, not just a digit substitution but 4 totally wrong numbers.  It crossed my mind that Summer’s dad might be in a correctional facility somewhere trying to contact her but I can’t dwell on that. If it was true it would be too sad, and if it’s not it’s just another scam.




Categories: An American Adventure

1 reply

  1. You can’t be too careful.


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