Most of us have at one point or another heard about, if not been targeted by, the so-called “Nigerian Prince” email scheme that typically results in stolen identities and wiped out bank accounts for those unlucky enough to become victims — but now one of those schemes has been busted by police in Louisiana.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the “Nigerian Prince” scheme typically involves an unwitting individual receiving an email, fax or letter informing them that they are line for a million dollar plus windfall from a member of a royal family in Africa.
The scam sometimes involves the recipient being named as a beneficiary in a will, or is asked to cash bogus cashier checks, or even help solicit donations for a worthy “cause.”
All the recipient has to do to receive this unexpected blessing is provide some personal information to confirm their identity, such as Social Security number, birth date, bank account numbers, and perhaps a small handling fee, in order to have the large sum released to them.
Of course, the victims of the scam never receive the money they were promised, and the information they provided to the scammers is instead used to steal their identity and/or clear out their bank accounts, often destroying their credit in the process.
But according to WGNO, the Slidell Police Department just busted a middleman in one of those schemes who is most certainly neither Nigerian, nor a prince.
Following an 18-month investigation, police arrested and charged 67-year-old Michael Neu with 269 counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering for his role in a “Nigerian Prince” conspiracy.
American man Michael Neu has been arrested by police in Louisiana for scamming people by pretending to be a “Nigerian Prince.”
He is now being charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering. pic.twitter.com/DWTPOUnsIG
— Metro DM (@TheMetroDM) December 30, 2017
Neu helped in the process of shuttling the ill-gotten funds from America to his co-conspirators, some of whom actually live in Nigeria, but most likely aren’t part of any royal family.
According to The New Orleans Advocate, Neu stood accused of participating in hundreds of instances of the financial scam that involved both the internet and telephone, and his role was to wire the money obtained through the schemes to his co-conspirators overseas.
A news release from the police noted that the investigation remains ongoing, “but is extremely difficult as many leads have led to individuals who live outside of the United States.”
“Most people laugh at the thought of falling for such a fraud, but law enforcement officials report annual losses of millions of dollars to these schemes,” the release stated.
Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal pointed out that Neu’s arrest should serve as yet another reminder to people that they must be extremely cautious when asked to provide personal information by anyone, lest they have their identity stolen.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” stated Fandal. “Never give out personal information over the phone or through email, cash checks for other individuals, or wire large amounts of money to someone you don’t know.”
He added, “99.9 percent of the time, it’s a scam.”
At least one such scammer will now be facing a significant amount of time behind bars for his part in a scheme to separate naive people from their own hard-earned money.
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