Prisoners at the Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF) are extorting money from persons outside the walls of the prison through phone scams, it has been reported.
The phone scams have been confirmed by three officials who spoke to St Lucia Times on condition of anonymity.
“The thing about it is when you are at Bordelais and you have phone credit, that’s like gold,” one official noted.
According to the official, a BCF inmate in possession of a mobile telephone calls someone on the outside pretending to have certain information and requesting phone credit.
“They keep on calling pretending that they are organising certain things for you. There are persons who have sent up to $300 in credit,” the official told St Lucia Times.
A BCF inmate is reported by law enforcement to have been behind a ‘cruel hoax’ perpetrated last month on the family of Cletus Hippolyte, 83, alias ‘Banana Split’.
The family, desperate for the return of their loved one who had been reported missing, received a phone call from someone who expressed genuine concern and indicated that they had information about his whereabouts.
The male caller requested telephone credit, a mobile telephone, money, medication for the missing man and other items to assist in getting Hippolyte home.
But the family realised after a while that they were being given the run around.
The items that were requested were given to a young woman in Dennery who was later arrested by the police due to a tracking device on the mobile that the caller had requested.
Hippolyte has still not been found.
“Sometimes the inmates would send persons on the outside to you to pretend that something is going on and request credit and what they would do is sell that credit to other prisoners,” an official explained.
Another official told St Lucia Times that the matter was under investigation, along with other scams being run from the prison.
However a third official explained that such scams take place in every prison.
“When you don’t have an updated system to jam phones, things like that will always happen,” the official declared.
That official asserted that prisoners can make a lot of money through phone scams.
The official said a sophisticated phone jamming device would be the answer to the problem.
Prison jamming systems can detect and either manually or automatically block the unauthorised use of mobile telephones in certain areas.
However there are critics who argue that such systems create more problems than they solve.
In June last year during a prison shakedown, nearly 700 contraband items were seized from inmates at the BCF.
The haul included 12 mobile telephones.