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Prisoner Education Guide

Stolen Credit Cards Laundered Through Global Tel*Link in Ohio Prisons

by Christopher Zoukis

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, which investigates all manner of crimes in Ohio, launched an investigation in November 2016 into the use of stolen credit card numbers to fund commissary accounts in the state prison system.

Three prisoners and a woman who lives in Cincinnati may be behind the scheme. According to court documents, over a period of more than a year, multiple deposits of $200 were made to 46 prisoner accounts in 14 facilities, all using stolen credit card numbers. The deposits totaled $380,786.36, and over $123,800 of that money was sent back out of the accounts via institutional checks from the prisons.

Some of the fraudulent deposits were reportedly processed through Global Tel*Link, a company that provides prison phone services and other ancillary services.

According to a warrant used to obtain email address information from Google related to the investigation, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction was not enforcing deposit limits during the timeframe, which allowed the money laundering scheme to operate.

“The fraud allegedly works with [sic] one inmate gives another $100 and receives $200 back on his commissary account via stolen credit card numbers,” the warrant stated.

Local attorney Dave Thomas, who was not involved in the investigation, described the multiple felonies involved in such a scheme.

“It’s a whole host of offenses, money laundering, credit card fraud, identity theft, theft and wire fraud,” he stated, adding the incident should serve as a warning for prison officials as to “the handling of money for inmates and how they [are] interacting with the vendors that help with that.”

“Today there is a vast black market in stolen credit card numbers and stolen personal information,” Thomas added. “And the fact this information was being trafficked around the state prison system highlights that.”

The Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Unit has released very little information, citing the open investigation. 




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