Brazil arrests German conman over pseudo-science fraud
- 24 October 2012
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
Brazilian police have arrested a German conman who claimed to have developed a scheme which he said allowed him to predict lottery numbers, transmit data and improve online banking security.
Hartmut Muller, who had been convicted of a multi-million-dollar fraud in Germany, persuaded people to invest in the scheme supposedly based on gravitational waves.
He fled to Brazil when the evidence against him began to mount.
He is expected to be extradited.
Interpol agents arrested Muller, 58, in the southern city of Florianopolis on Tuesday.
He had moved there in January, fleeing a court case in the German city of Dresden, where he and three of his partners were on trial for fraud.
Muller conned some 3,000 investors out of about five million Euros ($6.5m, £4m), the court said.
He had invented a pseudo-scientific theory he called "global scaling", which he said allowed him to use gravitational waves to prevent electronic smog, use novel methods of scanning to be applied in medicine, and transmit "information without any limits in quantity, quality or time".
The court said Muller convinced investors with his impressive, and mainly fictitious, CV which included advanced degrees in applied mathematics and physics from the University of Saint Petersburg and "the Vernadski Medal first grade for his scientific achievements".
Muller used his bogus theory to develop a wealth of products, from "wellness devices" which could allegedly protect the buyer from electronic smog to "vitality-generators" to improve one's life force.
Brazilian media say he continued his scams even after he fled there, selling software which he said used his theory to improve internet banking security.
An expert witness who appeared at the trial in Dresden dismissed Muller's global scaling theory, saying:"It has no scientific grounding: it's like astrology, totally made up."
The court in Dresden sentenced Muller to four-and-a-half years in prison.
Brazilian police say they will hold Muller until they receive an extradition request from Germany.