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California man pretended to be African leader's son, feds say

A San Francisco man was in federal custody Friday on charges that he defrauded a Northern California real estate agent and his girlfriend out of $1.6 million by pretending to be the son of Congo's president.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco said Blessed Marvelous Herve persuaded the couple to forward him the money over four years with promises of repayment, lucrative commissions, and multi-million bonuses and a collection of impressive-looking documents that included a certificate of recognition from a U.S. senator.

Instead, they received excuses and demands for more funds, according to an affidavit prepared by the FBI agent who investigated the case.

The affidavit states that Herve told the Marin County real estate agent that his father wanted to buy luxury homes in the San Francisco Bay area, but that first he needed help recovering millions of dollars seized by the U.S. government, advances so he could rent limousines to tour potential properties, and additional financial assistance paying IRS debts and costs associated with other legal troubles.

It said that after the agent had given Herve about $635,000 and "was financially broke," his girlfriend stepped in and provided another $970,000. At 41, Herve is the same age as Joseph Kabila, who has been president of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2001.

Herve's lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Edward Hu, declined to comment on the allegations.

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