A man behind the infamous “Nigerian Prince” internet scam was arrested in Slidell, Louisiana on Sunday for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from people online. Michael Neu, 67, now faces 269 counts of wire fraud, the Associated Press reports. He also faces a money laundering charge.
Neu allegedly participated in hundreds of “Nigerian Price” scams. The swindle usually breaks down as follows: a person receives an email from a person calling themselves a Nigerian official. That “official” tells the email recipient that they were named as a beneficiary in a will and that they will inherit $1 million. The email recipients are then asked to give over personal information such as a bank account number. If they do, it is used to take their money rather than to give them any.
“Most of us have seen the e-mail, or one similar, about a Nigerian Price who claims that you are the named beneficiary in a will, to inherit an estate worth a million or more,” a press release from the Slidell Police Department states. “Your personal financial information is needed to ‘prove’ that you are the beneficiary and to speed the transfer of your inheritance. 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.”
Neu allegedly wired money taken in such scams to his alleged co-conspirators located in Nigeria. He is accused of being the middleman. It is unclear if he has acquired a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said of generous offers online. “Never give out personal information over the phone, through e-mail, cash checks for other individuals, or wire large amounts of money to someone you don’t know. 99.9 percent of the time, it’s a scam.”
[Photo: Slidell Police Department]