Magazine article Corrections Forum

The Con Game

Magazine article Corrections Forum

The Con Game

Article excerpt

Telephone fraud detection tools are installed across virtually every state and federal institution in the country today. Despite these being in place, inmates, who have plenty of time on their hands, continue in their attempts to scam the systems.

RECORDING & MONITORING Sophisticated monitoring and recording technologies are helping prison and jail authorities to cut down on fraud, investigate crime and slice the huge revenues lost to bad debt. These advanced systems sometimes work over Internet Protocol networks giving investigators increased flexibility and search capabilities. Some systems allow them to track or retrieve recordings from virtually anywhere, via cell phone, notebook from home or any portable device. Other network-based technologies can send probes of a destination phone number to several data bases simultaneously to check if that number is flagged as an "unbillable" account. Done in the blink of an eye, it will not connect the call if it turns up a telephone customer who is in arrears on previous charges.

While recording technologies are mandatory at state DOC and federal BOP facilities, county agencies are also beginning to target high profile cases, gang-related crimes, etc. T-Netix, Inc., headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, has 1,400 installations, covering a total of nearly 1 million inmates and just under half the state Department of Correction systems in the country. In the past year, Kevin Collins, vp and general manager, western region, estimates that county agencies are increasingly seeking the proactive benefits of monitoring and recording systems. In the past year or two he says the trend is towards upgrades to existing systems, rather than entirely new technologies.


Introduced in the 90s, 3-way call detection is still a major tool used by correctional administrators.

Inmates continually try to add outside accomplices to the line for scamming purposes. But, while 3-way call detection was the hottest feature in inmate phone systems a few years ago, PINs are getting a lot of attention now, says Collins. PINs are often stolen or bullied from inmate to inmate, but T Netix' PIN-Lock feature makes them tougher to steal. It utilizes a voice print to provide an accurate inmate voice verifications.

There is a consensus that PIN fraud is becoming a more widespread problem in jails and correctional facilities across the country. To address the issue, Mobile, Alabama-based Global Tel*Link, the equipment vendor in 17 state DOC installations and the prime provider in approximately 300 county sites, has introduced three new security components to its core phone system. At the heart of the system is hardware called LazerPhone and a recording system dubbed LazerVoice.

Two of its new features, which were introduced in 2002 as options, specifically target stolen or shared PINs. Lazerprint, a biometrics fingerprint reader mounted in the phone housing, verifies identity accurately and instantaneously. LazerSpy, a digital pinhole camera also mounted in the phone housing provides identity backup.

LazerPrint and LazerSpy arm corrections authorities with powerful tools. First, if a fingerprint does not match the inmate's PIN, the call attempt is denied, virtually eliminating unauthorized use. In the case where an inmate is forced by another inmate into providing his fingerprint, the LazerSpy camera provides a pictorial record of who actually made the call, making falsifications obvious to facility management. Further reducing fraud in the case of a stolen PIN, most inmates do not wish to call the "allow list" of another inmate.

As a further enhancement, the fingerprint module simplifies PIN management. The system offers auto enrollment and eliminates the laborious process often experienced by correctional authorities; self enrollment is of special interest to counties, where the populations are more transient.

"Security Envelope"

Installed at about 20 Federal Bureau of Prison institutions, LazerVoice offers unique features through patented technology. …

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