WASHINGTON: From the looks of it, they were an educated, successful Pakistani couple living in a $2 million house. But now they are fugitives.
Former residents of San Jose in California, Jawad Hasnain and Saman Hasnain, who won the Mrs Pakistan World beauty pageant in 2008, stands accused of conspiring to commit grand theft in their old hometown. They have allegedly absconded to Pakistan. The couple had been living in the area for the past ten years.
Parents of two boys, Jawad and Saman hailed from Lahore. He was a graduate of Purdue College while she is reportedly an alum of Kinnaird College, Lahore.
Saman, from her pictures, appeared to be a good-looking woman and is described on the Mrs Pakistan website as having “almond shaped eyes, flawless skin and full beautiful lips.”
The prosecutors said that the couple, using her good looks, ran a loan modification scheme where they offered to help people have their loans modified in order to get low interest rates. Advertising through word-of-mouth and flyers in Hispanic stores, prosecutors stated that the couple took money from their victims in amounts ranging from $5000-$27000. “But it was all a scam and the couple stole the money and fled,” the prosecutors added.
“It’s not that she [Saman] was just attractive. She carried herself well; she wore nice clothes,” said Victor Chen, the Deputy District Attorney for Santa Clara County, in a telephonic interview with The Express Tribune.
“They had a home worth $2 million, they invited potential clients there,” Chen said, adding that people were impressed by their luxurious lifestyle. Chen also said that one of the victims revealed that Saman was “very, very good” at convincing people. “They had a cloak of credibility,” said Chen.
Chen, who said he is not at liberty to discuss what efforts they are making to extradite the couple from Pakistan, added that Saman and Jawad had fooled many people including “Pakistanis, Indians and Persians.”
The couple has been charged on multiple counts with over a dozen victims on the list. But Chen said that there are probably 70 to 100 people who fell prey to their scheme and the estimated amount of money they have stolen could be as high as $400,000-$500,000.
Chen added that Jawad was also arrested in March this year on a separate charge of embezzling $1.2 million from real estate developers but had posted bail. Authorities had also issued an arrest warrant for Saman.
On March 14, a day before Jawad’s court appearance, Chen received an email from him saying that he had to “leave the country” and would not be able to make it to court. Chen filed a motion and the court issued warrants for them on March 16 but by then, the couple and their two sons had left the country.
The couple, Chen said, are believed to be living in Pakistan at the moment.
As per the Mrs Pakistan World website, Saman said that she would like to change the world’s perception of Pakistani women. “I hope to act as a role model, and encourage, educate and motivate Pakistani women to help achieve a strong and progressive Pakistan,” the website stated.