The only thing worse than being scammed by Nigerian royalty is being scammed by someone merely pretending to be Nigerian royalty. Particularly if one’s Nigerian prince is, in fact, a 67-year-old resident of Slidell, Louisiana.
But it seems that after an 18-month investigation of Nigerian prince email scams, law enforcement has turned up Slidell’s Michael Neu, the U.S. facilitator who made sure the money moved from the victims in the U.S. to the scammers in Nigeria. Neu faces 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering, having participated in hundreds of scam transactions.
Nigerian email scams are so old and well known that they are the subject of jokes. But to those who are still taken in by them — which happens more than one might think — they are far from funny. Those who fall for the scam are taken in by the promises of large sums of money in return for paying the “taxes” or “fees” associated with sending the funds. Some victims get documents in the mail. Some are encouraged to fly to Nigeria to complete the transaction. Some fraudsters have reportedly even produced trunks or stamped money to try to verify their claims.
“According to State Department reports, people who have responded to these emails have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered,” the FTC states.
Neu is not Nigerian, but the police stated that money acquired by Neu was wired to people in Nigeria. His arrest seems to be in the context of a larger international investigation of the Nigerian price claims.