Although thinking that a white, elderly man from Louisiana has anything to do with African royalty is a shameful scheme to fall for, the only thing worse than falling victim to this age-old scam is being in the position Michael Neu is now in as the crime's "fall guy".
The scam emails involve a well-known trope that is nearly as old as the internet: A person claiming to be a Nigerian prince, or their representative, emails you requesting personal financial information in order to expedite the transfer of a massive inheritance of which you were hitherto unaware. These messages are the butt of late night jokes, but people still respond to them.
You've probably gotten the email before. "Some fraudsters have produced trunks of dyed or stamped money to try to verify their claims".
Neu is also accused of acting as a "middle man" for a group of Nigerian scammers helping in wiring of funds.
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Some tenants of the building, a mix of native New Yorkers and Latino and African immigrants, climbed down fire escapes. He added that it's not unusual for children to be fascinated by fire or rare for children to start them.
While Neu might lack a royal title, at least some of the money obtained in his scams did go to co-conspirators in Nigeria, police wrote.
In the scams, the Nigerian prince or official asks for the personal banking data of the person that is called in order to speed up the transfer of the inheritance or to temporarily hold funds that have allegedly been pilfered.
While such schemes might be dismissed as laughable, the public loses millions of dollars each year through such frauds, the police said in the statement.
Neu's arrest came after an extensive 18-month investigation. He added that no one should ever give personal information to anyone on the phone or in emails.
Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said he hopes the arrest serves as a warning to people targeted by such scams.