After years of defrauding sneakerheads out of millions of dollars worth of product, a prominent footwear reseller may finally be facing justice.
Michael Malekzadeh — the former owner of Zadeh Kicks LLC — has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and money laundering.
His partner and the company’s CFO Bethany Mockerman has also been charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Malekzadeh started the business in 2013, initially purchasing limited edition and collectible sneakers to resell on the internet. Over time, he began taking more orders than he had supply for, eventually running a fraud scheme that accounted for $70 million worth of unfulfilled orders.
Zadeh Kicks at first mollified its customers by offering them store credit or gift cards when their orders would not arrive.
However, the scheme caught up with the company due to pandemic-related interest in sneaker collecting: In 2021, it allegedly took 600,000 orders for the Nike Air Jordan 11 Cool Grey — but was only able to supply 6,000 pairs.
Additionally, Malekzadeh allegedly conspired with Mockerman to provide falsified financial information to banks, ultimately receiving more than $15 million in bank loans.
As part of the investigation, federal agents have seized millions of dollars worth of cash and luxury goods from the pair. Malekzadeh and Mockerman supposedly purchased watches valued at over $400,000, as well as cars manufactured by Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche, among others.
Per the DOJ, Malekzadeh and Mockerman are cooperating with the investigation.