Andy Surface: Alvin Man Sends Fake E-Mail Invoice to Fancy New York Magazine Publisher, Gets $8 Million

While we never endorse fraud, we have to give up some grudging applause for one Andy Surface, of Alvin.

According to federal prosecutors, Surface set up a company with a name that sounded a bit like that of the company that does the publishing for Condé Nast, the media giant that produces Vogue and the New Yorker.

He then sent out e-mail invoices saying, essentially, "Yo, you owe me $8 million dollars."

So they gave him the money.

(Freelance writers accustomed to begging Condé Nast publications to pay up might be excused if they are choking right now.)

The story first broke in Forbes, which found the obscure court filing containing the details of the case.

Surface himself hasn't been charged with anything (yet, we're thinking), but federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed a complaint naming the two monetary sums involved in the transactions as defendants, just to get a claim on the money.

The court documents say Surface created a company called Quad Graph, which looks a lot like Condé Nast's actual publisher, Quad/Graphics.

As to how two e-mails seeking $8 million to be sent to a bank branch in Alvin get approved, well, that seems to be one of the many mysteries of New York publishing.

Besides U.S. Attorneys, the Secret Service is also involved, so like we said, it's likely charges are brewing at some point.

Update: Check out the latest, where Surface renounces his claim to the cash and we speak with a relative.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly