It all starts with the flick of a finger. It's the latest scam making waves in many parts of the country, including in east Mississippi and west Alabama. The most recent victim was from Meridian.
Investigators say he was scammed after responding to an e-mail that he received from someone in Nigeria. In the e-mail, investigators say the sender said that he had $10,000 "locked" in an account in Nigeria and he needed help getting it.
In the e-mail the sender told the victim that he would send him a money order for $10,000 and that the Meridian man was to cash it, keep $4,000 of it and send the remaining $6,000 back to Nigeria. Ultimately, the Meridian man did just that. However, the problem was that the money order looked real but was not!
"In essence the bank even said that it looked authentic," says Sgt. Randy Jackson with the Meridian Police Department, "and come to find out the money orders were counterfeit, when the bank sent them off to get cashed!"
As for the victim, "He's going to have to pay that money back or else face whatever charges the banks sees fit to charge him with," says Jackson.
Previously, Sgt. Jackson says another local resident was fooled by this same scam. However, the scam artist in that case was from a former Soviet country. Aside from the victims having to pay back the money, Jackson says the unfortunate thing is that many of these scam artists cannot be prosecuted here in the U.S.
"It's difficult because a lot of these countries don't have extradition treaties with us," says Jackson. "This just leaves them free to do the crime and get away with it."
Even more disturbing, Jackson says in some cases the money which has been scammed has been found to be used to fund terrorists activity.
To avoid being a victim of such a scam, Jackson says anyone who receives such an e-mail should contact local law enforcement authorities and definitely not respond to it.
In the end, investigators say if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.