269 counts of money laundering, mail fraud
In a strange twist on the “Nigerian prince” schemes that net millions for Nigerian fraudsters each year, police in Slidell, LA, on New Year’s Eve arrested a 67-year-old American accused of helping facilitate the illegal transactions.
Michael Neu has been charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering for his alleged role in at least one “Nigerian prince” operation. According to a New York Times story, authorities have been investigating Neu and others for a year and a half. Most of the perpetrators targeted by the investigation reside outside the United States, a circumstance that makes investigation and prosecution very difficult.
Targets of the scammers receive notice that they can make big money if they help ‘Nigerian princes’ get their money out of the country via the target’s bank account and for this help will be richly compensated. Victims who send money or share their bank accounts never receive the promised payout.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns against ever responding to these pleas that claim to come from “officials, businesspeople, or the surviving spouses of former government honchos in Nigeria or another country whose money is tied up temporarily. They offer to transfer lots of money into your bank account if you will pay the fees or ‘taxes’ they need to get their money. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive documents that look ‘official.’ They may even encourage you to travel to the country in question, or a neighboring country, to complete the transaction. Some fraudsters have produced trunks of dyed or stamped money to try to verify their claims.”
These pleas are invariably scam-related, and individuals who scam targets who attempt to meet these requests lose their money and some victims “have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered,” according to the U.S. State Department.
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