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updated 5/14/2012 3:22:02 PM ET 2012-05-14T19:22:02

Not to be outdone by Nigerian cybercriminals, Jamaican scammers are now dialing your number in the hopes they can lure you into paying an upfront fee for a huge — but nonexistent — briefcase full of cash.

United States residents have begun receiving phone calls from Jamaican crooks who, in thick accents, tell the recipients that they've won a lottery prize worth as much as $500,000. Sounds great, but, of course, there's a catch to the free money.

According to a Better Business Bureau blog  covering the Snake River region from Oregon to Wyoming, these scammers use the same tactics — a fake lottery, a prize in exchange for a transaction fee to process your fortune — employed for years by Nigerian scammers.

[Nigerian Email Scams Ends In Real-Life Kidnapping]

In some cases, the crooks spearheading the lottery scam tell would-be winners to either hand over their credit card number to complete the transaction, or to call a Better Business Bureau to verify their winnings. The victims are given a phone number with an 876 area code, the prefix for Jamaica, and greeted by fake BBB representatives who again try to lure them into paying the fee for the fake lottery prize. But as the saying goes, you can't win if you don't play, and if you didn't play, you certainly haven't won anything.

As a rule of thumb, it pays — and can save you embarrassment and money — to be extremely suspicious of any unsolicited phone calls, especially calls coming from a 876 area code, or emails promising you anything free. Whether its money, gadgets, movie tickets or video games, the truth is nobody is going to give you anything without some serious strings attached. 

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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