Valley man offers warning after falling victim to internet scam

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PHOENIX - It's a scam that seems too crazy to believe, but lots of people fall for it and end up losing big bucks.

Paul Millet is an electronic engineer, who used to work for Motorola and Intel, but recently he's fallen on hard times.

Millet said that's why he was suckered in to an e-mail scam.

It all started with an email and ended with Millet out nearly $30,000.

"He had said that he and his mother were refugees from Zimbabwe," Millet said.

It was a dramatic plea from a stranger asking for help and money

Millet said he was suspicious when he first received the e-mail, but also curious about the possibility of making millions.

"Times have been pretty hard for us," he said.

And so this father and grandfather got sucked in to the scheme.

"What we generally call the Nigerian letter scheme, which basically is a variation on the theme of I've got a lot of money and I'm in an African country I'm gonna use your bank account and you get to keep a third or some percentage," Attorney General Terry Goddard.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said it's hard to believe, but lots of people fall prey, just as Millet did.

"It is the most successful rip-off scam in history," Goddard said.

Once Millet responded the scam artists did not relent. Weaving elaborate stories and pleas for help they kept telling him not only would he be able to help these refugees but also make a lot of money in the process.

"Please, please Mr. Paul get back to us as soon as possible," the e-mail said.

After months of correspondence, Millet actually got on a plane and went to South Africa to meet these so-called refugees in need of help.

He said everything seemed to check out, at first.

But when he returned to South Africa a second time, Millet said he was kidnapped and tortured.

"Burned with cigarettes, tied your hands up. Cut me so bad," he said. "It was very traumatic, I totally expected to die."

All of the torture documented in a South African police report.

Millet said neighbors finally heard some strange noises and called police. That's how he said he finally escaped, but not without losing a lot of money and a lot of pride.

Millet said he looks back and wonders how he got suckered into the scam.

The South African authorities wanted Millet to come back to testify against the four men who held him hostage but Millet's attorney's advised against returning to the country.

Millet said he is extremely ashamed about what happened, but agreed to tell his story to 3 On Your Side in hopes of warning other people about this.