Dubai: A Dubai-based expat accused of defrauding investors worldwide through a string of get-rich-quick schemes seems to have run out of luck.
Canadian man Aziz ‘Com’ Mirza, who lives in Burj Khalifa, drives supercars and describes himself as serial entrepreneur, mentor, influencer and philanthropist has been arrested and is now in Al Awir jail, Gulf News can confim.
Com, who is of Pakistani origin, was reportedly taken into custody by Bur Dubai Police on October 27 following a complaint of a UAE resident who lost over $150,000 in his dodgy schemes. A source at Dubai Public Prosecution said Mirza is being investigated for fraud and taking money from people illegally.
Gulf News uncovered the racket
In April 2019, a Gulf News investigation uncovered how Com Mirza had tricked hundreds into investing into disguised Ponzi schemes, dodgy real estate projects and a crypto currency that is now worthless.
The victims include people from as far as US, UK, Canada and Greece.
Most belong to a UK-based online community platform called the Muslim Entrepreneur Network (MEN) which Com Mirza and his brother Rafaqat ‘Rocky’ Mirza got associated with shortly after its launch in 2015.
Once on board, the duo allegedly used the platform to float an investment scheme called the Leverage Programme (LP) which guaranteed ‘financial freedom’ within a year.
Members were encouraged to join the network by forking out a minimum of £5,000 each.
Enticed by promises of attractive returns, 300 signed up in early 2017.
Around 1,200 more enrolled a few months later.
Among new recruits was Sharjah-based Umm Rayyan who paid £25,000. “It was our life-savings,” she told Gulf News on Monday. “We were called for a meeting at a mall in Dubai where Com promised us financial freedom within one year. More than two years have passed since then and I have no clue where my money is,” said the Indian expat.
Who is Com Mirza?
A Canadian of Pakistani origin, Aziz ‘Com’ Mirza describes himself as a serial entrepreneur, investor, social media influencer, mentor, philanthropist and dream chaser. He claims that since launching his first business at age seven with a lemonade stand, he has done business in eight countries.
According to him, he runs multiple companies in technology, real estate, automotive, luxury rental, crypto currency, investment and media industries. Com lives in Burj Khalifa and has over 800,000 followers on Instagram where the feed is filled with pictures of him enjoying hospitality of local hotels and restaurants.
Nearly £4 million was raised under LP between January 2017 and 2019.
Most of it was wired to the bank account of a Dubai-based firm owned by a third brother of Com Mirza while huge amounts went to pay for personal expenses.
“Between them the brothers took millions of pounds from average people around the globe,” MEN’s co-founder Harun Rashid said in an email to Gulf News from London.
Long list of victims
Aside from LP, scores more lost money to two other shady schemes fronted by Com Mirza — International Success Group (ISG) and a cryptocurrency called Habibi Coin, once billed as the “bitcoin of the Middle East”.
Briton Kalib Hussain, who invested £50,000 in ISG, said the scheme was pitched as an educational subscription website where Com was supposed to teach them how to make the most of their money.
“But somewhere down the line it morphed into an investment programme called ISG Capital Pool which required members to pool in their funds and get guaranteed 10 per cent returns within 12 months from a real-estate project in Dubai,” recalled Hussain.
New Yorker Tariq Syed who invested $100,000 in ISG said: “Com claimed he was a real estate mogul. We believed him.”
Dubai-based sales manager Gulammohiyuddin Maskati, 43, said he’s devastated having burnt his fingers in ISG and the real estate-backed cryptocurrency Habibi Coin launched by Com as a Sharia compliant currency
“I invested $50,000 in ISG and $25,000 in Habibi,” said Mastaki, one of the many investors who have since filed a police complaint.
John Barry from USA said he invested $500,000 in a scheme after spending a week with Com and talking with people who regarded him highly.
“It was all an illusion,” he said.
Ippokratis Boboras, who lives in Greece, said she invested $10,000 in Habibi Coin in 2018.
“I was familiar with Com Mirza through the internet marketing community where he was considered an authority. I had personal chats with him via Facebook and I sent money to his personal Paypal account,” Boboras said in an email to Gulf News.
Giannis, also from Greece, said he and his brother jointly invested $17,000 in Habibi after meeting Com at his Burj Khalifa apartment.
“He presented himself as a $500 million dollar entrepreneur,” said Giannis.
Mohammad Shareef from UK who lost £2000 in Habibi said he didn’t invest until he visited Com at his office in Dubai and met him in person. “We spoke for an hour. It wasn’t until this year that things started going down. Com’s Instagram posts are now all about food and gym. It’s been a sad experience for us. Until today there’s been no official word about what has happened with Habibi Coin,” said Shareef.
Canadian Abe Arabi ($10,000), Britons Mohammad Vorajee ($2,000), Humaun Rashid (£10,000), Abdul Aim (£14,000), American Kevin Green (1,500) are among several other Habibi investors with similar stories.
-With inputs from Ali Al Shouk, Senior Reporter