Posing in spruced-up versions of their prison uniforms, prisoners use these sites to sell themselves to potential pen pals and describe the types of people they want to meet.One compelling prospect, Israel Cosme, age 30, displays his perfectly toned chest to visitors of telling all takers, “I love to laugh and have been told I have a great sense of humor.” Precious Johnson in her profile on the same site cracks a cute smile above the message: “I am looking for a nice, patient, funny, and understanding man for a genuine friendship that could possibly lead to more.” Few prisoners in the United States have Internet access; therefore, for the incarcerated to make that special connection online, someone on the outside must get them started. With fees in the range of -75, prisoner dating sites charge willing friends to list an inmate’s vital statistics on the web — or the company can mail the necessary forms to the wannabe lover behind bars who then mails them in.Victims would exchange photos and engage in conversation with the defendants, who posed as the woman.The defendants would then contact the victims, identifying themselves as Homeland Security agents, the U. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said.(Meet-an-inmate does not charge for this service.) even boasts a Facebook-like interface complete with status updates to make the selection process more appealing.Friends of participating inmates pay to update prisoners’ statuses and upload photos (and curiously people who are not inmates also join).All told, the defendants collected at least 61 extortion payments totaling ,847, with Jones receiving 30 payments totaling ,684, prosecutors said.
On the surface, these sites profess to specialize in connecting people behind bars with those seeking pen pals.Behind this façade, sites with names like act as bridges that transform long-distance friends into lovers.Arlen Bischke started a prisoner pen-pal site called in 1998 to help prisoners connect to the outside world.People contacted by the defendants were told they could avoid jail time if they paid a fine, prosecutors said.Victims were even directed to retail locations to wire fines and fees the two defendants took turns picking up payments, according to court documents.