The scheme for which Zafar is charged ran from 2008 through 2010, but investigators say Zafar spent most of his time in recent years in South Florida. Flush with cash, he traded his sleepy life in suburban Columbus for one of fast cars, throbbing clubs and hip-hop allure in South Beach.
“These [people] would refer to Zafar as the ‘Prince of Dubai,’ as Zafar was always throwing money around down in South Beach,” an IRS agent wrote in a criminal complaint against Zafar.
Investigators say Zafar swindled $10 million from Washington businessman Patwinder Sidhu by convincing him that Zafar had an informant inside the Pakistani government. Zafar said his uncle was the country’s defense minister, responsible for buying land for the government. The plan, Zafar allegedly told Sidhu, was for Zafar’s uncle to tip him off on what properties to buy, then Zafar and Sidhu would sell the land to the Pakistan government for a profit.
Sidhu never saw a dime of his investment, even though Zafar told him they made $182 million and the money would be coming soon.
Instead, investigators say, Zafar dropped the money on a Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and other exotic cars, and he bought 26 pieces of jewelry, including a $42,000 watch and a $35,000 diamond, all while neglecting to file tax returns.
Zafar also left a considerable name for himself in South Florida.
He rented (and still owes money for) a Cadillac Escalade that was lit up in a 2008 drive-by shooting outside a North Miami-Dade strip club that killed a budding Opa-locka rapper.
He traveled with an armed bodyguard who shot two people during a confrontation involving Zafar outside the posh Bal Harbour Shops in 2011.
And he racked up a $180,000 unpaid tab at the Fontainebleau and its LIV nightclub that resulted in fraud charges in 2011 and an out-of-court settlement.
Zafar, who went by the name Chip Haider in some South Beach club circles, faced misdemeanor charges of battery and resisting arrest stemming from an August 2011 traffic stop in Miami Beach; the charges were dropped. He was cited the next month for boating in a restricted area, leading to a fine and a mandatory boating class. He faces a traffic citation in Broward related to a March red-light violation.
In June, a Miami-Dade County judge ruled against Zafar in a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by 4 Star Group, the parent company of a Miami Beach hip-hop studio. Zafar must pay 4 Star $286,285.39.