Michael Neu (WWL-TV video screenshot)

Following an 18-month investigation, a man said to have served as the go-between for an international team of scammers running an elaborate “Nigerian prince” email scheme has been arrested in Slidell, La.

Michael Neu, 67—who, as WGNO-TV puts it, “is neither Nigerian nor a prince”—was charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering.

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According to the Slidell Police Department, some of Neu’s co-conspirators actually do live in Nigeria. Neo was the middleman who sent the money to the real brains behind the operation.

Apparently, even though it’s 2017 and the Nigerian-prince email scam is as old as email and the internet itself, people are still falling for it. According to WGNO, Slidell police say it still nets millions of dollars a year.

How, Sway?

For the uninitiated, the scam usually begins with someone sending you an email claiming that you are the beneficiary in a will. It is designed to collect enough personal information from you to enable the scammers to steal money and commit identity theft online.

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Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal told WGNO: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never give out personal information over the phone, through email, 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 scam.”

Now is a good time to remind our readers that another scam that’s floating around is one in which a person calls you claiming to be from the IRS. He or she tells you that you owe some tax bill and tries to get information from you.

The IRS will never call you if you owe money. It will send you a notice in the mail, and if the agency doesn’t get a response, it will send one to your job.

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Don’t fall for the scam.

The best thing to do if you get a suspicious call from someone claiming to be something he or she may not be is to ask for a callback number. Verify the identity of anyone asking you for your personal information. If the person is unwilling to give you a first and a last name and a number to call back on, that should be the first red flag.

Read more at WGNO-TV.

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