The Home Confinement Scam: What to Know

In 2023, tricksters hit a new low, preying on folks behind bars and their families, pulling off nasty tricks like stealing identities and running a sneaky scheme dubbed “the home confinement scam.”

As per the warning posted by the Acting Attorney General of Pennsylvania:

Did you receive a phone call from a law enforcement officer appearing to be associated with the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons regarding a new early reentry program of an incarcerated family member? Please BE AWARE THAT THIS IS A SCAM. The scammer will explain that this new program was created to make space in the prison system for the influx of violent inmates.

The scammer will lead you to believe that your incarcerated family member qualified and was accepted into an “ISPRP” program. You will be requested to advance payment for an ankle monitor required to be worn by your family member.

Pennsylvanians should watch out for:

  • Unsolicited phone calls requesting personal information;
  • Fear tactics such as urgent action needed; and
  • Requests for payment via cash, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, or gift cards.

Tips to Remember:

  • Never give out personal information over the phone, especially if you did not initiate the phone call;
  • If the caller is asking for immediate payment by using services such as wiring money, purchasing gift cards or any other prepaid service, HANG UP;
  • Legitimate agencies will never call and ask you to verify personal information. If you are unsure of the validity of the phone call, hang up, and contact the agency (prison) to verify the phone call; and
  • If you receive a voicemail to call a specific phone number back, DO NOT call this number as this is the scammer waiting for your return phone call.

There are several variations of this scam and it is not only an issue impacting Pennsylvania prisons.

Some variations include claiming your incarcerated loved one has received a batch of First Step Act Earned Time Credits and is now eligible for early home confinement. The scammers may, in some instances, have sensitive personal information about your incarcerated loved one, which may seem convincing. The scammer may claim they need to be paid for the installation of a home monitoring system so your loved one can be sent to home confinement. The Bureau of Prisons never requires payment for the installation of home confinement systems. If someone is telling you otherwise, it is a scam.

It is crucial to remember that any change in an incarcerated individual’s status will be shared by their case manager or institution staff directly. If you have been contacted, it’s important to speak directly with your loved one to discuss the validity of any communication.

If you have been impacted by this scam, please contact us and provide the basic details so we can add additional warnings to this page.