Authorities charged Michael Neu, 67, with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering after conducting an 18-month investigation, the Slidell Police Department said in a statement.
Police say Neu allegedly operated as the scam’s “middle man,” who wired money from his victims to his accomplices in Nigeria.
The investigation is still pending due to its international reach, but authorities said the money Neu allegedly stole had been wired to a third-party in Nigeria.
Authorities are well-aware of these types of scams.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s description of the Nigerian email scam, the phishing scam begins with the suspect posing as a Nigerian prince or other high-ranking official seeking money or personal information to access an alleged inheritance.
Although such scams are the butt of jokes on late-night television, people continue to be duped by these types of scams.
“Most people laugh at the thought of falling for such a fraud, but law enforcement officials report annual losses of millions of dollars to these schemes,” the Slidell police said in a statement.
Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said that he hopes Neu’s arrest reminds the public not to fall prey to these schemes.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Fandal said in a statement. “Never give out personal information over the phone, through e-mail, cash checks for other individuals, or wire large amounts of money to someone you don’t know. 99.9 percent of the time, it’s a scam.”