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Woman claims San Diego CEO scammed her of $600K in online dating scheme

Posted at 6:24 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 21:35:01-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A California woman is accusing a San Diego CEO of gaining her trust and then decimating her entire life's savings.

The woman, Marieme Bouguerba, is being represented by San Diego attorney Charles Field, a partner with Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP

"She's devastated. You have a single mother who lives with her parents, and she's trying to make things go and to have her entire life savings decimated like this is a major setback for her - both financially and emotionally," said Field.

The lawsuit claims Mark Bernier trolls dating websites for vulnerable, high net worth women as part of his investment scams. It goes on to say he advertises himself as a licensed investment professional, attempts to build trust and confidence, and then aggressively seeks to separate the women from their money through purported investments.

Bernier is listed as CEO for San Diego-based venture capital firm, VentureMoney Management Co.

Field says his client met Bernier on the dating website, a site designed to help successful people find love.

Field says Bernier has exchanged over 29,000 messages with over 3,000 women through the Millionaire Match website, to sell them worthless securities.

"Well I think that's the mark of a good salesman, is that a good salesman can make a good pitch, can make a convincing pitch, and when it's backed by a legitimate looking website that has very prominent people on there, all that combined led her to believe that this was reputable," said Field.

Field says Bernier scammed his client out of $600,000. While they received $200,000 back during mediation, Field says they are not being told where the rest of the money is.

"It seems reputable, when you look at the website it seems like he's [Bernier] trying to do good things, that's what it appears. But like I said, we asked where the money is, we asked what it was invested in, where it went, and we have not gotten any answers," said Field.

Their lawsuit accuses Bernier of not even having a license to sell securities or give investment advice in California. Field believes the allegations amount to securities fraud.

10News received this statement from Bernier's attorney:

Our client vigorously denies the allegations. Tellingly, the attempted amendment was made in violation of a court-ordered stay and continues to include numerous community leaders who had nothing to do with the transactions at issue. The plaintiff's attempt to litigate this case in the press betrays desperation. Mr. Bernier will not stoop to the plaintiff's level. He looks forward to clearing his name in court and dismissing this abusive lawsuit.
McNamara Smith LLP

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