A 67-year-old Louisiana man, who allegedly served as a go-between in the “Nigerian prince” scheme that scammed people out of thousands of dollars, was arrested in Slidell after an 18-month investigation, WGNO reported.
Michael Neu, who is neither a prince nor from Nigeria, was charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering, according to police.
Slidell police said Neu is suspected of being the scam’s middle man. That person obtained money through a phishing scam. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it began with an email alleging to be from a high-ranking Nigerian official who asked for financial help or personal information to secure an alleged inheritance.
Police said it is difficult to track since many of the participants operate outside of the United States, WGNO reported.
Though the scheme is often the subject of late-night TV jokes, people have fallen victim to the scam, USA Today reported.
“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 Slidell police said in a statement.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said. “Never give out personal information over the phone, through email, 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.”