CLEARFIELD Utah (ABC 4 News) – Jailbirds are accused of running up phone bills without leaving their cell.
Two jail inmates and their five accomplices were charged with communication fraud.
They’re accused of setting up phony telephone lines at homes outside the Davis County jail.
One of their victims was John Evens of Draper.
They don’t even own a landline phone but one day they got a bill collector claiming they owed Century Link more than $1,300.
“It was a puzzle to me and all of a sudden I get a bill from Century Link for $1,300. that we never had,” says Evens.
For several months they battled with the bill collector and Century Link. He even filed a police report.
“It took us about three months to communicate with Century Link and police and with us to learn who this person was,” says Evens.
It turned out to be someone sitting in the Davis County jail
Police in Clearfield tracked down the phony Evens number to a home in Clearfield.
Investigators soon learned inmates were somehow stealing the identity of people like Evens and setting up phony phone lines at their girlfriend or relative’s home.
“And then they would be able to call out to that number and then have it three way forwarded to any number in the United States that they wanted to talk to,” says Kyle Jeffries of the Clearfield police department. “They were getting free phone calls out of the jail for a long period of time.”
Jaill inmates must call collect in order to make a call from the Davis County jail.
And in this case it was coming at the expense of people like Evens.
Now, two inmates, Michael Rivera and Eric Kamahele are facing a number of fraud charges. Five accomplices where phone lines were setup were also facing similar charges.
“I can’t pay for it,” says Evens. “I can but I don’t want to.”
He says once Century Link realized the phony phone line wasn’t his, Evens says he didn’t have to pay the overdue bill