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Am I being scammed?

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SarahT
SarahT's picture
Am I being scammed?

Hello-for the last few weeks,  I have been writing to an inmate via Corrlinks.  We have started an online relationship - but I fear he is only in it to scam me. He is asking for money every week, to "fund" his corrlink account - I am sending him about 20 dollars weekly.  Now he is asking for me to set up a network account so he can call me. I know I should know better, but I just love talking to him.  he is admitting to still being on these sites to talk to people on the outside world also - I am quite sure he is scamming many others too, but on the 1% chance, I'm wrong, and our relationship is legit - what are your thoughts please? How do I approach this subject with him

Northernyank
Northernyank's picture

I think you know exactly what is going on. Go with your gut. You've just met,  have been communicating for a few weeks and he's already asking you for money. Tell him no, and see what his reaction to that is. 

ST4s
ST4s's picture

If you’re being altruistic, expecting absolutely nothing in return, and being freely generous ‘cause that’s who you are, then the possibility of scammage is zero.

But if you are expecting something, here’s the math: CorrLinks costs the inmate about five cents a minute to log into a kiosk. That time (and money) can be spent reading and composing emails (none of this is free for them), or in some facilities to purchase music at roughly $1.25 per song for their MP3 player. So, 20 bucks a week works out to 400 minutes, or 6 hours and change for email time, or 16 songs, or some combination of the two. If you’re emailing like maniacs, 6 hours/week sounds plausible.

Seems you’ve already made your mind up though. Examine your own intentions while you’re second-guessing someone else’s. How would one approach the subject with him? By approaching the subject with him. Good luck!

SarahT
SarahT's picture

thank you - I guess it COULD be genuine that it works out about 6 hours a week as some emails are longer than others and we email several times a day, but I just can't shake the feeling - he is most likely getting this money off other women as well, using the same excuse - it's so hard to get my head around as I am not doing it out of the goodness of my heart, Im doing it because I actually like him and want to correspond, but theres just this little thing saying this can't be genuine.. Ahh!

ST4s
ST4s's picture

Or maybe you're fabulous and Prisoner X can't get enough of you. Talk it out. And if you sign up for the phone thing, if it's a GTL/Connect Network Advance Pay account, you can set it so it's only YOU who gets those incoming calls on your dime...unlike CorrLinks, which can't be funded directly and for you only like that.  

SarahT
SarahT's picture

it an awkward one to bring up - have no idea how I'm going to do it - but thank you so much for the advice :)

ST4s
ST4s's picture

...or try the Northern approach. She knows what she's talking about!

VioletGrey
VioletGrey's picture

If you try Northerns approach you could say something like "I won't be able to send money for a couple of weeks as had a one off bill come in" (vet bill, speeding ticket... not drawing on personal experience here *shifty eyes* haha) and see what their reaction is. I know that might be a little white lie, but if you think you're being used for money and aren't comfortable with that, then that might be an easy way of finding out if you're pal is genuine or not. 
ST4s - your wealth of knowledge and practical replies are always spot on.

ST4s
ST4s's picture

Speeding tickets?!? I have no idea what you’re talking about ;-)

And thanks Violet. You’ve got some gold-star wisdom to share too, as do many others on here. The thing is, I was also new to this once, and I came here to the forum (read: lurked) and saw all these scammer posts and all the wondering out loud and thought to myself, “what the actual fuck am I doing???” I had the same knots in my stomach (the scamming posts were the biggest triggers). But it’s just the nature of the human condition, right? How do we know who to trust? Inside? Outside? The answer is, we don’t. Life doesn’t come with guarantees. So, we spin the wheel, take our chances, hope for the best, and make those mid-course corrections when we need to.

That said, I no longer buy the argument that if someone’s in prison, and on here with a profile looking for someone to connect with, that they should immediately be viewed as potential scammer material. But I sure thought so at first: guard up, wall up, because we all doubt. That’s the human condition too. And it’s prison, right? Danger level high. OMG, they’re all criminals! But it ain’t necessarily like that, because people can change, and sometimes that change can be ushered along by folks like us (and let’s all acknowledge that sometimes it can’t). My best piece of advice is simple: just keep your head screwed on. And while you do, keep this in mind too: that the prison industrial complex has put every financial obstacle in front of the people we write to, to extract cash from them (or sometimes by extension us, or family members), if they want to make their lives inside just a little bit easier. The reason I don’t buy that argument anymore is my experience has been 1000% scammer-free – but let me qualify that – I’m not here looking for an exclusive (and no shade thrown on those who are; we all have our own reasons for doing this).

THAT said, writing to folks in prison has been, and continues to be, one of the most enriching and rewarding roads I’ve traveled. Because I’ve only met the most genuine of souls. Here’s hoping you do so as well (but don’t forget the keeping your head screwed on part).

VioletGrey
VioletGrey's picture

With an avatar like yours ST4s then I'm sure you don't know what I'm talking about :P 

I wouldn't say Gold Star, maybe paper star as that's where all my "knowledge" lies. I've never used JPay or Corrlinks, I'm strictly old school pen and paper with my pals. And my last PP and I talked on the phone but I came here for all my information regarding that shambles. That was of course, after I had lurked on the forum too :D  Unlike you, when I started writing I just did it, but there weren't so many options back then and it was only with my most recent pen pal that I needed some more in depth prison info and found my way here. Also I think Wildart said it, but I don't talk with many of my friends about this (queue the judgemental "cant get past it" attitudes I refuse to listen to anymore) so I have a little safe space among people with the same interest here. 
"How do we know who to trust? Inside? Outside? The answer is, we don’t. Life doesn’t come with guarantees. So, we spin the wheel, take our chances, hope for the best, and make those mid-course corrections when we need to." - So spot on. Wish more people had this kind of mindset. 
And you're preaching (not in a bad way) the the converted already with your views re: writing to prisoners. All the stuff you've mentioned (yikes! Criminals!) is exactly why I don't talk about writing with many of my friends, some people are committed to misunderstanding. 

Unfortunately you're also right about the prison system trying to screw them out of every last penny they might think about putting in their pocket which is why I love your "a gift is a gift when it has no expectations" kinda thinking as it stops people from feeling hard done by because in this equation everything is stacked against the prisoner financially.  

Of all the pen pals I've had through this site, all of them have been genuine people that have made some poor decisions but also grew up with little knowledge and opportunity so it doesn't really strike me that they've ended up in prison. But a lot do want to change, or just to be heard and thought of as human still and that's what keeps me coming back with my notepad and pen. 
 

SarahT
SarahT's picture

thank you all so much - its SO hard - I feel I'm really caught because he goes out of his way to ring me every night - and I'm not funding his phone in any way - it's not in my nature to be untrusting of people, but this is my first ever communication with a prisoner - so I'm a total newbie at it.  I am only finding out how hard it is for them in there (I;m not from America) and it's ALL a new learning curve to me - but I feel there is something very genuine about him at the same time.  I think I will go with the recommendation above and mention that I have gotten an unexpected bill and can't send anything for a week or two and see what happens.  I really hope I'm wrong about him as his story is amazing and it is a lovely feeling to talk to someone that says I make his day brighter - but it would crush me if I though tI was being taken advantage of :(

LettersfromHarlow
LettersfromHarlow's picture

I laid out my rules in the introductory email sent. NO ASKING ME FOR SHIT. NO MONEY. NO PICTURES. NO FAVORS. i am offering a link to communicate to someone on the outside that is fabulously smart, creative, kind and interesting. I dont PAY for that. They do if they need to. There is always joe blow in the celly next door who would be happy to have a friend to write to if they dont like my rules. There are like 7 rules I laid out. NO ROMANTIC or sex talk. NOPE. go elsewhere. I am not one of these psycho chicks who "fall in love" with a convicted felon. HELL no. Im happily married, and Im not stupid. These are men and women who ARE NOT known for being good, law abiding or honest people. I choose to write to death row inmates ONLY. No chance of visiting, They, as horrible as their crimes were, are the ones who are locked up 23.5 hrs a day going mad. Going MENTAL. Its as torturous for a human being to have that done as it is to murder and set someone on fire, rape or kill. SET RULES and boundaries. WHAT are you here to get or do? and if your looking for love...PLEASE SEEK MENTAL HEALTH HELP. Im dead serious. DONT THINK this is all there is out there for you. Being altruistic is ONE thing..being the next victim of scams, lies or future problems is an entirely other ball of ugly wax. DONT do it.  Protect yourself. Your here to help someone mentally. Not destroy your own mental well being. 

Anne marie HH
Anne marie HH's picture

Letters from.harlow??? Letters from.hell is more like it - you don t belong anywere near inmates with an attitude like that your the one whos a fucking lunatic. Not ALL death row inmates ARE guilty not ALL did heinous crimes, your a judgemental fruit the loop. Hopefully anyone receiving your letters of do's and don'ts will decide on DON'T and fuck you right the hell off. Idiot

ST4s
ST4s's picture

Well, thank goodness @LettersfromHarlow told us she’s “fabulously…kind”. I would never have imagined!

Northernyank
Northernyank's picture

@Harlow, I can't imagine anyone being happy to receive a letter from you. You may want to rethink the adjectives you've used to describe yourself. I could offer a few of my own to you, free of charge of course. 

-Signed by, a happily married 'psycho' chick to a felon. xoxoxo

Farfromhome
Farfromhome's picture

Wow, LettersfromHarlow. Do you even like the inmates that you do write? You're not exactly complimentary about prisoners so maybe you're the one that has the issues here and shouldn't be writing to any inmate at all. 
My fiancé is an incredible guy who made some bad choices once upon a time. 
I'm not the one with the mental health issues here, it would seem. I'm actually a very stable person who doesn't go off the deep end unlike a certain someone. 
However, much like you, I'm extremely happy in my relationship and believe me, it's mutually beneficial. 
In fact my relationship is far more stable than a lot of couple out here that I know!

I have a DR pp and I hope for his sake that he isn't also writing to you! He's already being punished enough!

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

While the Harlow inhabitant did bring up a very important subject (setting boundaries) the way s/he did it and phrased it was highly insensitive, to put it mildly.

Well, Harlow, there ARE ppl who do the right things for the wrong reasons and the wrong things for the right reasons, but, trust me, it's not up to you (or me) to judge. What brings ppl together what binds them and what seperates them, is no one else's business and it often is not really visible for an onlooker.

Personally, just like you, I'm in a longterm relationship on the outside and I probably wouldn't be writing in if I were not. But this doesn't give me any right to judge ppl who fall in love with an inmate and marry an inmate or have some other sort of committed, yet unmarried relationship. 
 

anyarissa
anyarissa's picture

I think the best thing to do is be straight forward. 

Anne marie HH
Anne marie HH's picture

High 5 @ farfrom..northern , Kirsten..and of course the yello bike...with penfriends like Harlow..who'd need enemies?

Carmen163
Carmen163's picture

C'mon guys, give LettersfromHarlow a break. She may be very direct and blunt, but we don't know where she is coming from. Let's treat her with the same consideration we have for our penpals. She is just telling us what her MO is, and her penpals will agree to that or not. I mean, after all she is making the effort to lighten up the lifes of some of the most tortured people ever. Of course she should not judge girls that are romanticly involved with prisoners, but if she knew them personally, she would never think about them in that way, I'm sure.

Anyway, I am very curious if SarahT had a conversation with prisoner X and how that went...

Jujay2014
Jujay2014's picture

For someone to sit here and judge other ppl as to the degree of if your looking for love seek mental help.... letters from hell...What exactly makes you so kind? You act as is you gods gift to prisoners and you need your feet kissed for writing anyone behind prison walls. Prisoners are desperate for a connection to the world on the outside, but I believe the only reason why you’re here is cause it boots your ego. Let me be like you for a second, you’re very insecure in anything that you do. Coming here to talk to ppl in need gave you a false sense of a self esteem boost. Good think you don’t visit anyone... hell your head probably wouldn’t even fit through a door. I always believed that folks who write prisoners are not judging. You on the other hand, so judgemental it’s sickening. No need to see a picture of you, as they say beauty comes from within. Well you are ugly as hell. I feel sorry for the prisoners who have only you to talk to. You might can go to a desperate prisoner and come at him with your bullshit talk, but we in here are ppl from the real world outside of prison walls. We will slap you with the same nasty attitude you came in with and no one in here is desperate to talk to you.