A Louisiana man has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a “Nigerian prince” fraud scheme that defrauded people of thousands of dollars.
Michael Neu, 67, faces 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering after being taken into custody following an 18-month investigation, the Slidell Police Department said in a statement.
According to police, Neu acted as a “middle man” for a group of Nigerian scammers, obtaining money and wiring funds to his co-conspirators.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the scammers operate by posing as Nigerian royalty or high-ranking officials and persuade victims to provide them with financial assistance or personal information to retrieve a fictional inheritance.
Though such scams have become notorious, thousands still fall for them, according to police.
“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 statement.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said in a released statement. “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.”
Police said that their investigation is continuing, but has been hampered by the fact that many of those accused of involvement in the scheme live outside the U.S.