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“What I could not handle was thinking that this kid is going to go to prison and get raped because I couldn’t help him anymore.”The man now has a civil suit pending against “Eddie.”Viator says the scams are difficult to stop, partly because overburdened and under-funded prosecutors are unwilling to spend time and money to charge and try prisoners already serving life sentences.
In addition, authorities cited the relative ease of raising bogus money orders--the nation’s single-largest prison scam.
Typical victims include a 67-year-old Orange County widow who spent ,000 and sold her home to bankroll a prisoner who said he needed to pay off legal fees, according to Viator.
After the initial embarrassment, he said, he was relieved.Kennedy said that some prisoners “prey on well-meaning volunteers to do a number of things--to get them money, to do special favors, make contacts in the community for them, send in special items for them. ‘If you don’t do what I ask you, I’ll do this or that, hurt your family.’ It’s rare, but it happens.”Kennedy said he trains pen pals to communicate clearly that they want nothing more than a friendly relationship by mail and not to respond to sexual propositions.The most vulnerable are gullible people who think they understand an inmate’s mentality, he said. The Advocate accepts personal ads from prisoners but also prints periodic warnings against bogus ads and scams.But now, the stakes have risen as pen pal scams have figured in the murders of four gay men, three in Mississippi and one in New York, who had been writing to the murder suspects when they were behind bars.On Sunday in San Clemente, former Indiana inmate Keith Eugene Goodman and two associates were arrested in separate SWAT team raids on suspicion of stalking Goodman’s prison pen pals and killing them after committing robberies.
He had also sent Goodman a total of $300 while they wrote each other.