A man posing as Nigerian royalty to in a massive email ‘phishing’ scam has been apprehended in Louisiana.
The culprit, 67-year-old Michael Neu, was taken down after an 18-month investigation by Slidell police Department’s Financial Crimes Division led them to his doorstep. Charges brought against Neu include 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering. Authorities believe the scammer created hundreds of fake email accounts and swindled unsuspecting citizens out of thousands of dollars.
Neu’s ‘phishing’ operation involves a trick that has been used for decades: A person purporting to be a Nigerian prince, or an associate, emails you asking for personal financial information in order to speed up the transfer of a huge inheritance of which you were previously unaware of.
The Federal Trade Commission describes the fraudulent scheme as, “convincing sob stories, unfailingly polite language, and promises of a big payoff.”
“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,” Slidell police said in a press release.
In an intriguing twist to the story, actually Neu did wire money to co-conspirators in Nigeria. The investigation is still underway and has been further complicated as several leads point to more conspirators located outside of the US.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 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,” Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said in a statement on the case.