Inmates Allegedly Use Jail as Illegal ATM

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RENO, NV - If you're going to use a stolen credit card, you probably shouldn't use it to post bail. It's a scenario that played out last month in the Washoe County Jail, and now, it has four people behind bars.

When an inmate is in lockup, friends and family can put money in an account for things like snacks, hygiene items, and phone calls. When that inmate leaves they get that money as cash. Last monthm, jail workers saw a red flag when someone left with too much cash.

"Once that red flag was raised and we looked into it, we could see that stolen credit cards were being used," said Sgt. Dennis Carry of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office Cyber Crimes Unit.

Detectives discovered people outside the jail were putting stolen money in an inmate's account. When it came time to leave, the inmate would get the money as cash. They were using the jail as an ATM.

"It is pretty brazen. They were caught and they were identified. One would always wonder how many times it would occur before somebody identifies a criminal act," said Carry.

A search warrant revealed the alleged band of crooks had likely bought thousands of people's personal information online... data similar to those stolen in the recent Target breach.

"It is the same type of information, the numbers the security codes, it may even be pin numbers," said Carry.

What's most surprising about this case: detectives believe this was an organized operation. They say at least two people were purposely getting arrested, just so they could cash out their accounts a few days later.

"They have other fraudsters that they work with and they want them to put money on the books so they can get it," said Carry.

The Sheriff's Office says it's keeping a closer eye on commissary accounts so this does not happen in the future. They have alerted the commissary vendor that they use, because this could be a trend that is happening nationwide.