Families desperate to help loved ones secure an early release from state prison are the target of scammers who call the family promising to provide an early release in exchange for money.
Tennessee's Department of Correction first learned of the scam late this week after targeted families called to report the scam.
In all of the cases, the caller asks the family to wire money via Western Union.
"It is just not true that you can send money and secure the release of an inmate from prison," TDOC Spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said. "That just does not happen."
In one case the caller asked for a two-part payment. The first installment would have been $900 and the second installment would have been $700.
The family did not send the money.
TDOC said they have received at least 6 other calls from families with similar stories.
So, far they have not found a family that wired money to the caller.
"A lot of times when someone is doing time in prison they will say their family is doing time as well," Carter said. "Of course it is tough on families and that's one of the things people should think about before they commit crimes."
TDOC's Office of Investigation and Compliance is investigating the calls including their origin and how the callers obtained the contact information for inmate's family.
The only options for a convicted felon serving a prison sentence to get released are through serving their sentence or being released on parole, probation or through a court order.
There are more than 20,000 inmates housed in state prisons and many others housed in county jails across the state.
Thousands of families are possible targets.
"This could be a statewide scam so we wanted to make sure and spread the word as wide as possible to the families of those who are in prison," Carter said.
Anyone who received any of these phone calls should call the TDOC Office of Investigation and Compliance at 615-741-7144.