Slidell PD Releases More Details on “Nigerian Prince” Fraudster – Offer Victims a Way to Recover Mon
Detective Daniel M. Seuzeneau, Slidell Police Department Public Information Officer / Criminal Investigations Slidell, said in press release that Police detectives originally started investigating Michael Neu in May of 2016 after a complaint was filed from the Dodge City Police Department in Dodge City, Kansas.
The original complaint was from a resident in Dodge City, who fell victim to a “Nigerian Prince” e-mail scam. The original victim wired money, through a bank transfer, to Michael Neu, who resides in Slidell, Louisiana. Neu, who was the middle man, would then forward the money to the Country of Nigeria via Western Union, MoneyGram, etc., and in exchange, would keep a small percentage of the money for himself.
Slidell Police began investigating Neu more closely and determined the following: Michael Neu met a person by the name of “Maria Mendez” through Facebook, who detectives believe is a fake profile and belongs to someone out of the Country of Nigeria. “Maria Mendez” convinced Neu, through a so-called “romance scheme”, to begin transferring money for her from third-party individuals (like the original victim from Dodge City, Kansas). “Maria Mendez” would send thousands of e-mails a day to people through e-mail, text message, chatrooms, and social media, in hopes of finding a victim.
The e-mail’s would consist of “Nigerian Prince” scams, fraudulent IRS scams, reshipping scams, advance pay scams, etc. When someone would actually fall victim to one of these scam’s, “Maria Mendez” would convince the victim to wire or mail money to Michael Neu in Slidell, Louisiana. Michael Neu would then transfer the money to “Maria Mendez” in the Country of Nigeria, and keep a percentage of money for himself.
The scammers use people like Michael Neu as a middle man in an attempt to conceal their true identities, and to launder the money. Michael New was conducting 3-4 fraudulent transactions a week.
Early on in the investigation, detectives actually warned Neu about his illegal actions, and gave him the benefit of the doubt that, perhaps, he was unaware that his actions were illegal. This did not stop Neu, and he continued his illegal practices because “he needed the money”. Investigators discovered that Neu had over ten different bank accounts, most of which were frozen or closed due to him conducting suspected fraudulent transactions. At some point, Western Union banned Neu from using their wire transfer services, forcing him to use other companies to do his transactions. When detectives interviewed Neu, it was discovered that he was fully aware of his actions, and knew what he was doing was illegal. Detectives estimate Neu made over $250,000 worth of fraudulent transactions. There is a high probability that the dollar amount is much higher, but that is what investigators were able to easily prove during the initial investigation.
Neu was arrested by Slidell Police on November 28, 2017, and is currently being held at the St. Tammany Parish Jail with a $30,000 bond. The Slidell Police Department has been working with the U.S. Secret Service with this case, and the investigation is still on-going. It is unknown if any additional charges will be filed against Neu.
If someone lost money to a scammer who had you pay using Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you can now file a claim to get your money back. Because of joint investigations by the FTC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million and admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud. DOJ is now using that money to provide refunds to people who were tricked into using Western Union to pay scammers. Visit the following link: https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/western-union-settlement-faqs