A Louisiana man has been arrested on wire fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a “Nigerian prince” scam. Michael Neu, 67 of Slidell, La., was slapped with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering after an 18-month investigation by the Slidell Police Department. According to the department’s Facebook page, Neu has now been taken into custody.
Neu is accused of being a “middle man” for the scam, obtaining money and wiring funds to his co-conspirators in Nigeria. The scheme allegedly scammed people out of thousands of dollars. Police said that their investigation is continuing, but are having issues due to the fact that many of those accused of involvement in the scheme live outside the U.S.
The scam starts with an email from a high-ranking Nigerian official who is seeking people to provide financial assistance or personal information to receive a large amount of money. In most cases, it is requested that the victim wire money to his account or hand over all of their bank information so the funds can be deposited.
While the scam is well known and has become a staple of late-night TV jokes, people are still falling victim to the scheme. Law enforcement officials report annual losses totaling millions of dollars from these schemes. According to State Department reports, people who have responded to these emails have been subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, even violence.
Authorities urge people not to disclose personal or financial information requested by emails or phone calls from unknown individuals. Scammers are savvy, often creating official looking documents, fraudulent websites, and doctored photographs to try to verify their claims. The contacts are designed to tug at your heartstrings and appeal to the human nature to help others. If you believe that you have been a victim of one of these schemes, call your local Secret Service field office listed in your local telephone directory.