Although the advancements of technology and revelatory phrases such as “catphish” have helped many people avoid scams, there are still many who fall victim to the age-old traps. Most recently, a 67-year-old man from Louisiana was arrested for running an international “Nigerian prince” email scheme after officials conducted an 18-month investigation.
Michael Neu, of Slidell, has been charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering, reported WGNO-TV.
In Neu’s operation, he helped transport fraudulently obtained money to his cronies, some of whom actually resided in Nigeria, according to the Slidell Police Department.
The scam started as email to an unsuspecting recipient who is called the beneficiary in a will. In the email correspondence, the scammers then collected personal information from said beneficiary and use it to steal money and identities online.
Every year, the “Nigerian prince” scam acquires millions of dollars each, and the SPD says it’s extremely difficult to track the conspirators who operate outside of the United States.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal told WGNO. “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.”
When contacted by anyone posing to be an agency or official, always ask for a callback number and verify the identity of the person attempting to collect the information, according to the SPD.