Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fraud: Man claiming to be son of president of Congo charged in $1.6 million scam

U.S. Attorney’s Office 
Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO—A federal criminal complaint was filed on April 24, 2013, against Blessed Marvelous Herve, of San Francisco, charging him with wire fraud, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced. Herve told victims that he was son of the president of Congo and needed money to release his riches. He promised repayment plus a bonus of millions.

According to the complaint, Herve, 41, collected $1.6 million from victims through his fraud scheme. In order to lure victims and bolster his credibility, Herve showed various documents, such as a letter written to him from a United States senator, copies of awards of recognition he received from the city and county of San Francisco, and a certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from a member of Congress. He also claimed he lived at the Four Seasons hotel in San Francisco.

One of Herve’s victims was a real estate agent from whom Herve promised that his father would purchase tens of millions of dollars in real estate. Herve convinced the agent to give him tens of thousands of dollars to pay expenses related to the purported father’s real estate tours, such as the rental of bulletproof limousines. In the final years of the scheme, Herve claimed that the U.S. government seized millions of dollars from him during the course of secret court proceedings. Herve also claimed he was incarcerated as a result of these proceedings. When the victims ran out of money, Herve claimed that he was being deported to Puerto Rico and was not heard from again.

Herve was arrested Wednesday evening in San Francisco and made his initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco yesterday morning. Herve’s next scheduled appearance is at 9:30 a.m. on April 29, 2013, for a detention hearing before Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins.

The maximum statutory penalty for wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, is 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Hallie Hoffman is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elizabeth Garcia. The prosecution is the result of a three-week investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Please note, an criminal complaint contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Herve must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.