Ohio man charged in $10M real estate scam
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 17 June 2013 06:12

MIAMI (AP) — A Pakistan native has been charged with bilking a wealthy Washington businessman out of nearly $10 million, but it's the flashy way prosecutors allege Haider Zafar spent the money that's also getting attention.

There were bodyguards, diamonds, six-figure bills charged partying at swanky South Beach hotels, a black Lamborghini, a Rolls Royce and an Aston Martin, according to a criminal complaint filed last month.

Zafar was arrested last month and charged with wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion and remains behind bars in Ohio waiting for a federal grand jury to hear the charges against him.

In 2008, authorities allege Zafar convinced 47-year-old Patwinder Sidhu, who made his fortune by founding and selling a successful IT consulting firm with government contracts, that his uncle was Pakistan's defense minister and was responsible for buying land for the government. Zafar said his uncle could tip him off on what properties to purchase, then Zafar and Sidhu would sell the land to the Pakistan government for a profit, according to the criminal complaint.

Sidhu allegedly wired money to Zafar 178 times in 2008 and 2009. Zafar kept up the scam by emailing bogus reports on their investments, which he claimed made them $182 million, the complaint said. When Sidhu asked for his cut, Zafar stalled with bogus information from the Pakistani defense minister's office, according to court documents.

Instead, authorities said Zafar took the nearly $10 million and partied in South Beach, racking up a $180,000 unpaid tab at the Fontainebleau hotel and LIV nightclub, flashing money and buying luxury cars and fancy jewelry. The Miami Herald (http://tinyurl.com/k89ene8) reported Zafar lives in Ohio but spent much of his time in Miami's tropical playground for the rich and famous.

"These (people) would refer to Zafar as the 'Prince of Dubai,' as Zafar was always throwing money around down in South Beach," an Internal Revenue Service special agent wrote in the complaint.

Zafar's attorney, Samuel Shamansky, did not return calls for comment.

Zafar even dabbled in the music industry, spending time with a local up and coming rapper, Derek "Toro" Johnson.

Toro had been club hopping in 2008 when a silver sedan rolled by and fired several shots into his rented Cadillac Escalade outside a Miami strip club. Toro died from his wounds and Zafar paid for the funeral, according to an online profile of Zafar.

Authorities said the Escalade was rented in Zafar's name and he still owes money on the car. The rental company's insurer has been trying to recover money from Zafar for the car's damages. A lawsuit in Ohio seeks $35,158 plus interest from Zafar.

It may have been Zafar's penchant for fancy cars that ultimately led to his downfall. Authorities tracked him to a Holiday Inn Express in Ohio last month and noticed a car that stood out in the parking lot — a black Bentley convertible.


Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 06:26

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