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Regardless of how often you use the internet, you’ve probably heard of a scam that’s basically as old as the internet itself: you receive an email from someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince and they desperately need a bank account to wire millions of dollars to. It’s a textbook phishing scam.
Despite how ridiculous and blatant this scam is, people still fall to it and it led to an 18-month investigation that has actually led to the arrest of its mastermind: Louisiana resident Michael Neu. Slidell police and their Financial Crimes Division arrested Neu this past Thursday.
Here’s a mugshot of Neu:
The charges brought against Neu include 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering, alongside the belief that he is the mastermind behind “hundreds” of scam email accounts that managed to net thousands and thousands of dollars from his victims.
“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 the news release.
The investigation gets even more complicated as Neu actually wired money to co-conspirators in Nigeria. Coming from this, the investigation is ongoing and has multiple leads pointing to conspirators outside the United States.
The Federal Trade Commission has long since noted the scam itself, warning consumers of the risk: “So-called ‘Nigerian’ email scams are characterized by convincing sob stories, unfailingly polite language, and promises of a big payoff.”
The scam will specifically claim to be sent from a Nigerian prince, or their representative, claiming you are benefactor of a massive inheritance – and they need your banking information so they can wire you all those millions of dollars.
“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.
Have you ever gotten one of those Nigerian Prince scam emails? Have you ever known someone that has fallen prey to them? Sound off in the comments below!