By Cathy Locke
Sacramento resident Virginia Fremstad is warning of a telephone scam after learning that she may have been an unwitting victim.
Fremstad said she received a phone call Aug. 15 purporting to be from an inmate at Sacramento County's Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center. She was advised to press "1" if she was willing to accept the collect call and set up an account so the inmate could call her. If she didn't wish to accept it, she was told to press "7."
Fremstad said she pressed 7, but then noticed that the call came from a Houston, Texas, area code.
She had friends in Houston and called them. When she described the phone call, her friend said it sounded like a scam that had plagued the Houston area and pressing "7" could allow the caller to run up charges on her telephone account.
Sacramento Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said he hadn't received any reports of the scam. If an inmate calls from jail, the person receiving the call is given the option of accepting or declining the call but is not directed to press a number, Curran said.
An Internet search turned up reports of a prison inmate phone scam resembling the call Fremstad described. Typically, an inmate asks the individual to dial a sequence of numbers that begins 72 to forward the call. This sets up a call-forwarding scam that turns the victim's phone line over to the inmate.
Anyone receiving such a call is advised to hang up and to notify their phone company if it appears they have been wrongly billed for long-distance calls or collect calls from jail.