September 17, 2008, - 5:23 am
By Debbie Schlussel
The story of Zahid Alam and his now-closed Premium Gas Station in Manchester, New Hampshire is a common story, but one rarely covered in the mainstream media: Muslim mortgage fraud involving gas stations. Sometimes it’s used as a way to fund terrorism.
Mr. Alam is nowhere to be found, though he is believed to have fled to Pakistan along with his brother and father who were involved in his schemes. All three are believed to have transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets to Pakistan. They leave behind a string of creditors, many of whom are now, themselves, down on their luck:
The now-closed Premium Gas station at 1883 Elm St. was well known in the city for having rock bottom gas prices.
Less well known, though, were matters surrounding the station’s owner, Zahid Alam, and his company, Premium Gas LLC. Creditors claim Alam and his firm owe them hundreds of thousands of dollars for unpaid gasoline bills. A federal judge called Alam’s business practices “unethical and unscrupulous” in a breach of contract case against Alam and his company. And the state is suing Alam and his company for thousands in allegedly unpaid gas-transport and environmental fees, court records show.
“I think they were able to have the cheapest gas in town because they weren’t paying the road tolls,” said Jason Reimers, an attorney with the state Attorney General’s Office.
What’s more, no one seems to know where Alam is. . . .
The 2380 Elm St. residence that once was home to Muneer Alam, the father of Zahid Alam, was scheduled to be sold at foreclosure Aug. 29, according to public notices. . . .
[Creditors] have attached the assets of Muneer Alam [Alam’s father] and Sajid Alam, Zahid Alam’s brother, who also was involved with the station’s operations.
The present whereabouts of all three Alams are unknown. In a July court filing, Jack White, an attorney with the Nashua firm of Welts, White and Fontaine, P.C., representing Muneer Alam, wrote that his client “has been out of the country for a couple of months, but is expected to return shortly.”
According to court records, all three Alams once lived at 2380 Elm St., a stately Victorian house with seven bedrooms, an expansive front porch and more than 4,000 square feet of living space. City tax records list Muneer Alam as owner of the house, which he bought from Notre Dame College in 2002 for $291,000.
But public notices in August indicated the house was due to be foreclosed upon and sold at auction.
Muneer Alam had also owned the service station property at 1883 Elm St. He is also listed in city tax records as the owner of 381 Paquette Ave., a Tudor-style house in the city’s North End. . . .
According to the Hillsborough County Registry of Deeds, Muneer Alam took out a mortgage on the 1883 Elm St. property worth $825,000 on March 7. Massachusetts-based River Bank NA was listed as the mortgage holder.
Creditors have charged in court papers that Zahid and Muneer Alam engaged in a series of financial transactions involving various limited liability companies to protect their assets. In a court filing in April, [creditors] charged one of those LLCs had been used to transfer money out of the country.
“Sargodha LLC is an entity created by Muneer Alam to gather assets from the Alam family and transfer those assets back to their hometown of Sargodha, Pakistan,” charged attorney Craig Donais of Bostock, Rogers and Donais, P.C., in Exeter. “Additionally, Sargodha LLC has made large cash distributions to Zahid’s personal account, apparently in furtherance of the defendants’ schemes.”
In the filing, Donais went on to charge that Muneer and Zahid Alam had made several trips to Pakistan since his clients won their judgment, had taken large sums of money to Pakistan, and had asked people in the United States to help them transfer money there. He also charged that family members had traded in “several” expensive cars for cheaper ones in cash transactions, a move Donais charged was done to shield assets.
In an April court filing, New England Petroleum’s counsel, Devine, Millmet and Branch, P.A., charged that Muneer Alam had transferred cash in excess of $600,000 to accounts outside the United States — a fact the firm’s counsel said it learned through a confidential informant. . . .
Although the Alams’ whereabouts are unknown, those who have known them and those close to the case believe they are in south Asia.
“As far as we know, he’s in Pakistan,” said Ahmed, a fellow Pakistani. Sargodha — the Alams’ reported hometown — has at least half a million people. It is in northeast Pakistan, closer to the Northwest Frontier Province than to Lahore, the region’s main city.
Two of the people the Alams ripped off were Isaac and Lisa Mwangi. Good luck to them in getting any kind of redress.
So where did hundreds of thousands of dollars the Alams ripped off go and what is it funding?
We’ll never know until it’s too late.
Thanks to Sabra/Stilettos in the Sand for the tip.