Scams happen to new inmates by predator inmates.
Most of these scams are hard to tell unless you are forewarned. Many savvy people, even wealthy businessmen get fleeced inside prison simply trying to fit in.
Predators are not easily spotted but they know how to spot you by finding out what your weaknesses are. Most every "new" inmate's weakness is thinking that their appeal will get them out early, or that there is something that cuts their sentence. The inmates whom have been around can play this angle and play to the emotions of the new person and if that person has any money, they are targets.
"Rule 35" scams - Inmate who had done time approaches a new inmate with this scam. A Rule 35 is essentially a sentence reduction for substantial assistance in another case. The scamming inmate will tell the "mark" that he knows of a crime that is ongoing and for anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 this information can be theirs. The money transfer takes place between entities outside the prison. Purportedly, the buyer now gives the information details to his lawyer and waits to see if the feds will bite. They almost never do and it's impossible to get your money back when the information does not yield a sentence reduction. In theory, it sounds great and in some cases it does actually come through, but that is why scams work. Read about this scam in USA Today. See the graphical on the scam in the Atlanta Federal Prison.
"Strawman" legal appeal - There are countless numbers of inmates trolling the aisles of prison libraries looking and sounding the very part of "jailhouse lawyer". They are NOT to be confused with incarcerated ex-lawyers or inmates whom have become certified legal assistants through correspondence courses. The "legal" lawyers and aides would NEVER offer the "Strawman" theory as a defense. But, the long-time inmate who does espouse this ridiculous notion is walking around with reams of paper to "prove his theory" that you are a Sovereign Citizen and are not bound by the laws of the United states. Some groups that are tied to the "conscientious tax objectors" that call themselves the Freemen who believe they can opt out of being governed.
In 2010, American Rights Litigators’ founder, Eddie Ray Kahn, was convicted of conspiracy in federal court and sentenced to 20 years for pitching schemes designed to help more than 4,800 paying clients avoid paying taxes. Kahn’s clients included actor Wesley Snipes, who also is in federal prison after his tax evasion conviction.
Beware of this scam. To read the complete history and details of this "sounds to good to be true" scam, and you won't believe it when you read it but people are gullible and want to get out early. The cost of having one of these charlatans file a writ on your behalf under this laughable defense begins with a few hundred dollars and often grows into the thousands as your jailhouse lawyer files and files and files on your behalf keeping you involved, vested and trusting of the worst kind of parasite.
Read the entire story. The inmate selling this scam wasn't smart enough to get themselves out, how are they going to help someone else?
Financial/Investment scams - Beware of wily old cons who spend hours and hours in the library charting stocks and writing business proposals. Since no inmate may operate a business, these old veterans of the game sound so convincing and get some inmate to listen. Again, money gets wired out of the family holdings to a nondescript account and then nothing happens. When you try and get your money back all you'll hear are excuses and delays. Unless you are willing to fight, you have no recourse and even a fight won't get you your money back but it might get you thrown in the hole for a few months.
Stock/Commodity trading scams - Similar to the financial scam, you see older cons who talk incessantly about the market and how well they are doing trading for their own account. Believe me, they have piles and piles of records to illustrate their phenomenal track record. They too spend hours and hours in the library charting stocks and commodity contracts. After time, they gain your confidence and talk you into "opening an account with his people". The trading commences and eventually there will be evidence from "statements" that the trading luck has run out and all the money is gone.
Protection scams - This one is a little scary in that most newbies into the system have notions of getting beaten up or raped. They have that look in their eye when they walk the compound and the predators can spot it from a mile away. First comes the intimidation and stories about this con or that inmate whom has already taken advantage of this new guy or that one. Fear takes over and before you know it, you are paying this guy to protect you. Unfortunately, whatever you pay will never be enough. The number goes higher and higher until you can't pay. Then the intimidating menace beats up the client...or worse. Walk with purpose, show no fear. If you have to stick up for yourself in a future moment, then do it as your future time spent in this institution depends on it. If you have to take a beating, believe me, it will give you status and you will be respected. Bullies don't like to fight someone who sticks up for themselves.
Gambling Scams - Card playing and gambling is a big part of prison. Be careful who you deal with. Most of the Texas Hold 'em games have some element of rigging to them as groups play together to break one person who appears to have some money. Remember where you are...nothing in prison is the way it is on the street. The old line in the movie "Rounders", "when you sit down at the table and look for the sucker...if you cannot find him, then you are it".
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