GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - It's not clear whether a Kent County Correctional Facility inmate was trying to get money out of the stranger he called from the jail or if he was just looking for a pleasant conversation.
Officials at the jail say inmates sometimes call random numbers to talk or try to scam whoever answers the phone.
Tom Chubinski got annoyed by the several phone calls he received on his cell phone from the Kent County jail.
"A recorded message every time, saying the same thing and interjecting an inmate's name, which was garbled," said Chubinski. "I could not understand it."
He said he doesn't know anyone in jail and most of the time he simply hung up on the caller. But he kept getting the calls, day and night.
"He called 13 times," said Chubinski. "13 times."
He said the calls included messages that made it seem to him that someone was trying to solicit money for an inmate.
"To open or put money into a prepaid advance connect account, please press '2,'" the calls said.
"It doesn't happen frequently, but it is not unheard of. Inmates would just go fishing on the phone system," said Capt. Randy Demory of the Kent County Sheriff's Department. "See if they can get somebody on the other end of the line who'll accept the call either because they're confused or didn't hear the name correctly and once they get them on the phone, then they ask them for money."
The jail phone system, which is provided by a private contractor, allows inmates to call collect.
The call's recorded message identifies that it is a call from the correctional facility and includes the inmate's name. It also allows people to set up or pay into a phone for the inmate.
People who receive jail calls from a stranger may want to just hang up. But if it happens frequently, there are other options.
"You can call us. We will happily block the call for you," said Demory. "You can call the phone company. You can block it. But actually while the recording's going on, if you just press '6' on your keypad, that will automatically block the call as well."
It's not clear why an inmate kept calling Tom Chubinski. He may have been calling the number because it once belonged to a friend. He may have been trying to con Chubinski into opening an inmate account.
Or, maybe he just wanted to talk.
Jail officials say inmates sometimes cold call people because they have nothing else to do and want to talk to someone on the outside. Officials don't recommend taking those calls.
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