Police Finally Arrest 'Nigerian Prince' Over Email Money Scam
American man behind email fraud arrested in Louisiana
The mastermind behind the infamous "Nigerian Prince" phishing email scam has finally been arrested in Louisiana.
67-year-old American man Michael Neu was arrested this week by Slidell Police Department's Financial Crimes Division following an 18-month investigation.
Neu has been charged with 269 counts of money laundering and wire fraud and is believed to have set up hundreds of scam emails, targetting people all over the world, costing unassuming victims millions of dollars.
The scam emails are almost as old as the internet and involve a well-known trope where the sender claims to be a Nigerian prince or their representative.
The recipient is requested to send personal financial information in order to expedite the transfer of a "massive inheritance" from Nigeria of which they were somehow unaware they were eligible to receive.
It is believed that millions of people all over the world have fallen for the fraudulent emails by giving away their financial details to Neu and his associates in the hope of inheriting a large payout.
“So-called ‘Nigerian’ email scams are characterized by convincing sob stories, unfailingly polite language, and promises of a big payoff,” reports the Federal Trade Commission.
"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 news release.
In perhaps the most interesting twist to the tale, Neu did, in fact, wire money to co-conspirators in Nigeria.
The investigation has been further complicated as multiple leads have pointed to additional collaborators who are based outside of the United States, but the operation is still ongoing.
In a statement about the case, Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said:
"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."