Romania to implement mobile signal jammers in prisons to curb phone fraud by inmates

Romania plans to implement a system that will jam mobile phone reception in prisons starting 2015, which should limit the number and use of mobile phones in prisons, but also corruption among prison employees.

The Prison Administration in Romania is working on finalizing the tech specification sheet for equipment purchase via tender, an important step, as this would be a first in Romania. “We need to choose wisely”, said Claudiu Bejan, head of Romania’s Prison Administration

The unauthorized use of mobile phones by inmates was central to many fraud cases where prisoners called gullible individuals and asked for money by giving them fake information. One of the most common schemed used was for inmates to call people and pretend they were lawyers, working with a family member who was taken by the Police and who needed money to be released, convincing families to send them over the money.

Using a different pattern, five prisoners were found in 2013 to have led a crime group dealing with IT fraud, which stole around EUR 350,000. The crime ring allegedly defrauded bank units, supermarkets and companies.

Some of the money obtained by the members of the group were brought to the prisoners during regular visits, as well as via electronic transfer to their bank accounts. Members of this group were also cheating people by cold calling and asking for recharge codes for prepay phone cards, as well as other tricks via phone.

The crime ring also tricked nine companies in Romania, as well as financial transfer companies abroad into fake transfers of money, by using fictitious identities, and by pretending they were simply performing a routine system test.

Keeping inmates from using contraband cell phones in prison in a challenge in other countries too, which have introduced mobile phone jammers in the prisons they run.

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