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Eugene sneaker business charged in fraud scheme

Nike ordered a recall of its new July Fourth-themed Air Max 1 sneakers over concerns about its Betsy Ross flag logo. Prices for the shoes rocketed on the website StockX, as seen on a computer screen Tuesday.
Lucas Jackson
Malekzadeh offered pre-orders on unreleased shoes and occasional rumors.

Two Eugene sneaker re-sellers are being charged in an $85 million fraud scheme.

Michael Malekzadeh and Bethany Mockerman appeared in federal court August 3 on charges of wire and bank fraud. Their online storefront, Zadeh Kicks, is accused of product nondelivery. It filed for dissolution this year, citing debt.

In one instance, Malekzadeh took 600,000 pre-orders on a new Air Jordan. He allegedly obtained only 6,000 pairs and withheld refunds. Brendan Dunne is the host of Full Size Run, Complex’s sneaker podcast. He said Malekzadeh promised the impossible.

“That number is ludicrous. You could not reasonably expect to get that big of a chunk of the shoes.”

Malekzadeh and Mockerman’s practices allegedly cost customers more than $70 million in unfulfilled orders and defrauded financial institutions out of over $15 million. According to Dunne, schemes like this mostly hurt resellers looking to invest, not ordinary buyers.

As part of the government’s ongoing criminal investigation, federal agents have seized millions of dollars in cash luxury goods. The government also seized nearly $6.4 million in cash, resulting from Malekzadeh’s sale of watches and luxury cars.

Malekzadeh and Mockerman are cooperating with the government’s investigation, including the seizure of these assets. Both were released pending further court proceedings.

The FBI is seeking affected customers at FBI.gov/ZadehKicks.

Nathan Wilk is a KLCC Reporting Intern through the Snowden Internship Program. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Wilk began volunteering in radio at 11-years-old, and he has served as a radio DJ and host on multiple local stations. Today, he is a Journalism undergraduate at the University of Oregon with a focus in local artistic communities. In his free time, Wilk enjoys writing music and reading old horror novels.