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A JAIL-CENTERED CREDIT SCAM

SHARE A JAIL-CENTERED CREDIT SCAM

A sophisticated credit card scam apparently run by inmates at the Iron County Correctional Facility in Cedar City may have cost merchants $1 million or more, authorities said.

Stereos, VCRs, cameras, running shoes and hundreds - perhaps thousands - of other items were believed ordered by inmates using fake American Express credit card numbers, investigators said.Most of the merchandise was sent to family and friends, but some items were delivered to the prison.

"It seems like all the inmates are wearing Reeboks (running shoes) down here," Iron County Attorney Scott Burns said Tuesday.

Burns said he anticipates filing multiple felony theft and communications fraud charges against between five and 15 inmates at the 176-bed medium security facility.

The Secret Service, whose jurisdiction includes certain types of credit card fraud, has also opened an investigation into the thefts. Steve Zimne, special agent in charge of the Utah office, said federal charges are pending.

The scheme may have been operating for years, with inmates using contacts recruited outside the prison to pick up goods.