NEWPORT NEWS -- Since Valerie McCandless' mother-in-law's death, many relatives have called McCandless on her cell phone. When she missed a call recently, she didn't question the '268' area code.

'I thought it was a family member out of state that I didn't know, and I wanted to answer it to see if it was somebody that wanted to talk about her,' explained McCandless. 'I answered it, and they'd hung up, so I called back.'

A message from McCandless' service provider greeted her, telling her she did not have enough money in her pre-paid account to complete the call.

McCandless did an online search for the '268' area code and found a warning from the Better Business Bureau about a 'scam' involving that area code and others.

'When the cell phone user tries to return the call, they're billed $19.95 for an international call fee,' said Rosemary Nye, President and CEO of The Better Business Bureau of Greater Hampton Roads.

The operation, called the 'One-ring Cell Phone Scam, also may connect callers to a toll service or chat line, charging as much as $9 a minute.

The area codes associated with it include 268, 284, 473, 809, and 876. Countries associated with the operation include Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

McCandless advised people should not answer or call back numbers they don't recognize. She also suggested understanding your phone bill entirely and monitoring your monthly statements.

'Add restrictions to your monthly account. That's very important. Call your service provider, and see if you can restrict third-party billing,' recommended Nye.

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