Police in Slidell, Louisiana say an elderly white man posed as African royalty online in attempts to scam hundreds of people out of thousands of dollars.
As the New Orleans Time-Picayune reported Friday, 67-year-old Michael Neu was arrested and charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering. Slidell police investigated the scheme for 18 months and found that Neu was the middle man.
The now-well-known scam involves someone who claims to be a "Nigerian prince" who is informing the email recipient that they're "the beneficiary of a large sum of money." In order to get the promised money (some claims have even put the sum in the millions), recipients must first provide bank account information and other financial information — at which point the scammer steals from them.
"Most people laugh at the thought of falling for such a fraud," Slidell police said in a statement, "but law enforcement officials report annual losses of millions of dollars to these schemes."
The police also said that "some of the money Neu is accused of obtaining was later wired to co-conspirators actually in the country of Nigeria."