At this point, anyone with an email address has likely gotten a scam email from a Nigerian prince offering hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in secret inheritances or as payment for helping the prince launder money from mining conglomerates or royal treasuries.
For the most part, these cases do come from Africa (maybe not always Nigeria specifically), but one American man has proven you can run the Nigerian prince scam from anywhere in the world.
Last week, police in Slidell, Louisiana, arrested 67-year-old Michael Neu, a Caucasian man who now faces 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering following an 18-month investigation.
Neu reportedly took part in hundreds of financial transactions involving phone and online scams to con money from people across the United States. In his scams, the supposed Nigerian prince would ask for the person’s personal banking information to hasten the transfer of the purported inheritance or temporarily hold the funds. The information would then be used to withdraw funds from the victim’s accounts.
According to the police, despite Neu spearheading the operation, some of the money obtained in his scams did go to co-conspirators in Nigeria, as well as people in other countries outside the US.
Law enforcement agencies across the US are now warning people of calls from scammers purporting to be police or court officials demanding payment via phone of bogus fines or warrants. The police report that millions of dollars are lost to all these scams annually.