‘Fan Scam’ Victims Seek Justice As Rapper Hypes More Shows

maleek

A rapper accused of duping people into posing as his fans is claiming to have more shows lined up.

In an Instagram Story last week, California-based Dr. Maleek shared a flyer for a March 16th "SOLD OUT" concert in London, England. He did not name the venue and, as of Sunday, the “Tour Dates” page of his website indicated there is “No upcoming event scheduled.” A Google search for a Dr. Maleek show in London brings up no result.

(Dr. Maleek did not respond when asked via e-mail on Jan. 27 to provide the name of the venue in London.)

In an earlier Instagram Story, Dr. Maleek claimed he also had shows coming up in L.A., Houston, DC, Chicago and Atlanta.

Two recent Instagram Stories by Dr. Maleek promoting upcoming shows.

Dr. Maleek, whose real name is Malik Gabertai (in 2016, he sought to change his surname to Hamza), has publicly denied having a role in a scheme to sell tickets and fill his shows with people who now appear in promotional photos and videos on social media.

Some of those people who were promised cash to act like fans at his shows in Oakland and New York City in December have joined forces to explore their legal options – including a possible class action lawsuit. In the meantime, a few have sought refunds for the tickets they purchased from their credit card providers.

Gabertai is also named in a complaint filed with New York’s Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection.

“My friends and I were scammed,” Sophia (who asked that her surname not be published) wrote in the filing, a copy of which was obtained by iHeartRadio.ca. “I am owed my money … I played my part.”

(The Office of the Attorney General has not said if it will investigate the claim and Gabertai has not been charged with a crime.)

A complaint filed against Malik Gabertai in New York.

Sophia claims she never received the $6,500 (all figures U.S.) she was promised for bringing more than a dozen friends to Dr. Maleek’s Dec. 9, 2021 concert at SOB's in New York City.

She said if Dr. Maleek is booking more shows, it’s a slap in the face to her and other victims of the fan scam. Many of them have vowed to contact venues that book Dr. Maleek to make sure they know about what happened to them.

Angie (not her real name) is angry, too. She went to Dr. Maleek’s New York City show after being promised $700. “I want to make sure his career goes to the ground," she said. "There are so many real up-and-coming talented artists out there that deserve to have a spotlight on them." 

David (not his real name), who attended the same show with friends after being told he'd earn $1,600, agrees. “It's sick that Malik would rather cheat his way than work hard.

“I live month-to-month, so I was excited to make some money for me (and my friends). I planned my finances around the money he still owes me.”

Some believe Dr. Maleek’s “sold out” show in London is, in fact, nothing more than another creation of the wannabe rap star’s imagination – like the gig he claimed to have on New Year's Eve.

Late last month, Dr. Maleek shared a flyer for E11Even Miami’s special event that showed headliner 50 Cent “plus special guest DR MALEEK.”

A rep for E11Even Miami confirmed the flyer Dr. Maleek posted was fraudulent. “Not sure who Dr Maleek is or why would he Photoshop his name on our flyer,” spokesperson Juan Chaves said, in an email. “He’s not scheduled to perform or DJ on NYE.”

(Dr. Maleek did not respond when asked why he altered the flyer.)

The real flyer for a NYE show (left) and the one altered to add Dr. Maleek's name (right).

Gabertai has a history of providing alternative explanations for why his shows have been cancelled.

One day before his Dec. 16, 2021 show at Catch One in Los Angeles, club management pulled the plug after being informed of the fan scam at his shows at The New Parrish Music Hall in Oakland and SOB's in New York City. “We looked into this and found these allegations to be credible,” a Catch One rep said, via email. “We have canceled the show.”

But, Dr. Maleek posted – and later deleted – a statement on Instagram claiming the show was off because he tested positive for COVID-19.

(Dr. Maleek did not respond when asked why he claimed it was a positive COVID-19 test that derailed the show.)

Last September, when Vancouver’s Fortune Sound Club cancelled Dr. Maleek’s Dec. 4th booking due to a lack of ticket sales, he shared a flyer in an Instagram Story that indicated the show was “SOLD OUT.”

Dr. Maleek claimed his Vancouver show was sold out after it was cancelled by the venue.

When Dr. Maleek’s Dec. 7th show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto was cancelled, he told local singer-songwriter Ionna – who he had booked as his warm-up act – that it was postponed until March.

There is no Dr. Maleek show booked for Lee’s Palace in March. A rep for the club did not respond when asked why the December show was cancelled.

Ionna told iHeartRadio.ca she was “a little mortified” to learn about the fan scam. “I had no idea what was happening,” she said. “That’s not okay. That’s so embarrassing.”

THE FAN SCAM

Last summer, Dr. Maleek announced that his We Outside Tour would hit up clubs in eight cities between Nov. 30 and Dec. 16. (In the end, only two shows took place.)

Ads started to appear on Craigslist and Backstage seeking “fans” for live concerts by an undisclosed artist along with “celebrity guests” like Chris Brown, French Montana and Canada’s Tory Lanez.

“The deal is you will receive 250$. And for every friend you bring it’s an extra 150$ each,” read one of the recruitment ads on Craigslist. “YOU will have to get the TICKETS up front (20$). BUT they are fully reimbursed and we will do a contract with you before the day you show up so it’s all clear.”

People were told they had to act as “fans of a major artist on his first ever headlining tour” and must be able to “cheer, act crazy as fans and have a good time.”

(Craigslist provides tips on avoiding scams and relies on users to report suspicious posts. A rep for Backstage suggested that fan scam victims file police reports.)

One of the Craigslist ads recruiting "fans" for a Dr. Maleek show.

Others were contacted directly by “Sam” or “Baka” – in messages from the same number – to buy tickets and pretend to be fans.

On Reddit and on an online forum for reporting potential scams, the casting call was flagged as early as July 2021.

On Sept. 20, 2021, iHeartRadio.ca reported on the fan scam without naming Dr. Maleek. Still, someone who identified himself only as “Sam Majorky” (but who used a Gmail address with the name "Ian Michael") took responsibility for the casting call.

“Would love to know where you got the info from its (sic) a scam. Letting our legal team know about this … We have not scammed anyone nor intend to,” he wrote on Sept. 21. “And this is deformation as a journalist no information was put into this. And we want it removed.”

(“Deformation” is not a legal cause of action – he presumably meant “defamation.”)

Asked to provide specific details about the opportunity he was advertising, “Sam/Ian” replied: “When writing journalism the burden of proof is not on me to prove it’s real but on you to prove it’s fake. We don’t have to answer you , but as an article was posted we want it removed for its falsity.”

He claimed Brown, Montana and Lanez are "close friends of ours" who will "come out as surprises and are not on the bill.”

MORE: Fan Scam Victims Share Their Stories

A week later, a message from “Chris Monsanto,” using a Gmail address that misspelled his surname, noted: “The actual day has not come yet so even if people are being paid to come you cannot say or speculate it’s a scam until the day after if people get paid … I would say bad journalism on your part.”

The real Chris Monsanto, who was hired to edit several music videos for Dr. Maleek, was surprised to learn his name was used. “That is definitely a fraudulent email address and that message was NOT sent by me,” he told iHeartRadio.ca in December.

So, who is the “Sam Majorky/Ian Michael” who so passionately defended what turned out to be a scam? Surely not the “Sam Malarsky” whose name appeared on contracts the fake fans signed.

The four-page document, which was not drafted by a lawyer, contains no company name or contact information, but identifies Malarsky as “Employee ID: 2365383.”

According to the contract, “fans” had to “make a concerted effort” to learn nine Dr. Maleek tracks prior to the shows so he can “feel the full experience from everyone in attendance, this includes but not limited to, phones being up, lights out, hands up, etc.”

The first page of the contract "fans" were asked to sign.

Getting a written agreement was challenging for Sophia, who has kept screenshots of three months of conversations she had with someone who only identified himself as “Sam.”

He contacted her on Sept. 3 claiming to “work on behalf of a record label/touring department for OVO sound records for one our artists” and asked if she wanted to get paid for “engaging as a fan in crowd and bringing friends” to Dr. Maleek’s show on Dec. 9.

“Baka,” who also recruited fake fans for Dr. Maleek’s shows, similarly claimed to “work on behalf of a record label touring department for OVO.”

A text message from 'Baka' claiming to work for OVO Sound.

OVO Sound is a label founded by Canada's Drake, Noah Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib.

(Dr. Maleek did not respond to iHeartRadio.ca when asked for Baka’s surname and position at OVO Sound.)

OVO Sound, whose roster happens to include a rapper named Baka Not Nice (aka Montreal-born Travis Savoury) did not respond to a request for comment on the use of the label's name.

“Sam” told Sophia there would be “special secret celebrity guests” like Montana, Lanez and Akon at the show and he later promised Chris Brown and Lil Baby “will be coming out” on stage with Dr. Maleek. None of the artists, in fact, appeared.

Later, “Sam” claimed he ran a similar recruitment campaign for Tems, the Nigerian singer who has collaborated with Drake and Wizkid.

Sophia’s interest was piqued but since the offer sounded too good to be true, she asked for the name of the company “Sam” works for and its website.

“I can’t specify it,” he replied. “It’s in our NDA.”

When she asked “Sam” for his Instagram account, he again cited a non-disclosure agreement: “Haha I’m not sure u know how NDA’s work lol. I can’t reveal nothingggg.”

Sophia told “Sam” some of her friends were hesitant to buy tickets to the show because they feared it was a scam. “Sam” wrote: “Some people would rather work the plantation for 100$ a day (the real scam) then have money and enjoy a show.”

He later wrote: “Chances you get paid? I would say 101%”

Despite the red flags, Sophia convinced some friends to buy tickets and then pressed “Sam” to provide the contract he promised. Five days before the concert, he told her the delay was because he was in the hospital after a car accident. “Just getting out,” he claimed on Dec. 4.

A day earlier, “Sam” told Lisa (not her real name) he couldn’t send her payment for attending the Oakland show because he “got in car accident” and said “hold on I’m checking out er soon.”

When Diane (not her real name) asked about her payment for acting as a fan at the Oakland show, “Baka” told her he was in a car accident.

A FIRM DENIAL

In a statement he shared in an Instagram Story in late December, Dr. Maleek acknowledged "some people were promised ridiculous amounts of cash to show up to concerts and were scammed out of money." He claimed “somebody has been using my name in bad light” and denied any involvement in “this scheme.”

Dr. Maleek offered “sincerest condolences” to victims of the scam and warned others “not to engage in any talks involving payment to attend concerts.” He added: "We urge other artists to be aware of this scam."

Dr. Maleek was asked by iHeartRadio.ca via emails on Dec. 20 and Jan. 27 who he believes would be motivated to perpetrate the scam and who, other than him, would benefit from packing his shows with “fans.” He did not respond.

A statement about the scam Dr. Maleek shared in an Instagram Story.

WHO’S WHO?

Some of the fan scam victims have said they believe “Sam” and “Baka” are the same person – and probably Gabertai.

David was communicating with “Baka” about getting paid to attend Dr. Maleek’s show in New York City.

At 8:10 p.m. on Sept. 11, David went to Dr. Maleek’s Instagram and DM’ed him a screenshot of the offer he received from “Baka.” He asked the rapper: “Yo is this real? Just want to make sure before I buy tickets [to] your nyc show.”

Dr. Maleek did not reply but, seven minutes later, David received a text message from “Baka” that read: “Brother Why are u messaging arist (sic). U lucky I have his account. Ur not supposed to message him he doesn’t know. Lord.”

A DM to Dr. Maleek asking about the legitimacy of the offer.

Although he wondered why “Baka” had access to Dr. Maleek’s DMs, David went ahead and purchased six tickets and was promised $1,600 for bringing five friends, who would each earn $400.

“Baka” assured him: “All money will be sent to u. It’s morning after the show paid via zelle cash app or Venmo.”

David had doubts and asked for more information about the person with whom he was communicating.

“My name is Baka. That’s all I can identify as,” he wrote. When David explained he simply wanted to be sure he was going to get paid, “Baka” replied: “Yeah I here (sic) u done this for drake / playboi carti concerts this is small i can handle it. Everything is good.”

David and his friends attended the show and then waited a couple of days to contact “Baka" about payment.

On Dec. 12, “Baka” replied "Yeah weekend back on it Tomoz.” David inquired again on Dec. 16 but got no reply.

“When I called after that the phone had been disconnected,” said David, “which is when I realized something was wrong.”

Messages from “Sam,” “Baka” and Gabertai have come from the same phone number – a Verizon number that has been "changed, disconnected or is no longer in service," according to a recording.

(Dr. Maleek did not respond when asked in emails on Dec. 20 and Jan. 27 for the surnames and contact information for “Sam” and “Baka.”)

Hoping Gabertai’s sister could shed some light on who’s who, iHeartRadio.ca reached Layla Gabertai at the California investment firm where she works as a transaction manager. She insisted she didn’t know Malik.

Asked to clarify that she was claiming to not have a brother named Malik, Layla replied: “This is not the correct number, no.”

MANAGEMENT MYSTERY

Also unclear is whether Dr. Maleek really has a manager. (Dr. Maleek did not respond to iHeartRadio.ca when asked if he has a manager.)

Emails received in September and December from the Gmail address shown on the rapper’s Twitter profile for his “management” were anonymous.

Messages to two different U.S. media outlets from individuals claiming to be Dr. Maleek’s manager used the names “Broyden Isiah” and “Jonathan Schmidt.”

Notably, an email on Sept. 29, 2021 from Dr. Maleek’s “management” account includes the same incorrect use of the word “deformation” as in messages a week earlier from “Sam Majorky/Ian Michael," who had admitted to being behind the casting call.

“We have reported you to the Canada business Hotline and also have the venue looking into getting us the appropriate information for slander/deformation,” it read. (There is no such entity as the “Canada Business Hotline.”)

“In no way is dr maleek or any affiliates involved with any ‘scam’ towards any concerts/shows of his. You are lying, and causing skewed perception.” Dr. Maleek’s unnamed manager threatened a lawsuit “based on your half cooked , misinformed articles slandering our artist and concerts/shows that our fans come to enjoy.” (Dr. Maleek was named in only one article.)

Asked to provide his name or company name, the individual replied:  “Well as you can see we are messaging from Dr Maleek's official email … we are from dr maleeks (sic) Official management. And dr maleek has been notified of your words and is also not happy at all!” 

On Dec. 14, 2021, another anonymous message from the Gmail address for Dr. Maleek’s management warned: “This is the final notice before we will serve papers to iheartmedia.ca and all other affiliated entities for deformation and loss of wages.” (There is no “iheartmedia.ca.”)

Promotional materials for Dr. Maleek typically display a logo for “Dr. Mobb Productions” and, in his statement about the fan scam, the rapper referred to “Dr. Mobb Productions LLC.” It does not have a website, isn’t listed in public directories and does not appear to be registered in California, where Gabertai lives.

(Dr. Maleek did not respond to a question about Dr. Mobb Productions.)

A LinkedIn profile for “Sammi Soave,” identified as CEO of Dr. Mobb Productions, was revised shortly after a Dec. 15 report about the fan scam on iHeartRadio.ca. “Sammi Soave” became “Sammy Hanza” (not Hamza), who works in “Customized Investment Portfolios.” The profile was then deleted from the platform.

Adding fuel to the speculation by fan scam victims that “Sam,” “Baka” and Gabertai are one and the same are some of the people hired by the rapper.

L.A.-based DJ CeeHudd said he never met anyone who identified themselves as “Sam” or “Baka” nor anyone claiming to be Dr. Maleek’s manager.

He was hired by Gabertai – using the same mobile phone number used by “Sam” and “Baka” to contact fan scam victims – to be the DJ at Dr. Maleek’s shows in exchange for a modest fee and all of his travel expenses.

(Dr. Maleek did not respond to iHeartRadio.ca when asked why his messages were from the same phone number.)

CeeHudd said he had “absolutely no idea” he was performing in front of people who were only there because they thought they were going to get paid. “I’m honestly hurt because I was lied to,” he told iHeartRadio.ca, adding that – like the fake fans – he never got paid. “I was so upset when I end up figuring everything out. I just blocked him on everything [and] I haven’t spoken to him since.”

Ionna, the singer hired to open Dr. Maleek's Toronto show, told iHeartRadio.ca she was contacted by Gabertai.

Adinah Silva, a singer who performs as ADINAH, also said Gabertai reached out to her via Instagram with an offer to open the New York City show. “Before that I had no idea who he was,” she said.

In DMs with one of the fan scam victims, ADINAH said she “only physically met him the day of the show (he was actually very rude to me).”

The singer told iHeartRadio.ca: “I was excited for the opportunity and hadn’t performed since prior to COVID so I took the gig without a promise of payment.”

ADINAH said she “communicated with someone acting as management but the name given to me was B. That’s all I was told.”

She said she learned of the fan scam a few days after the concert. “I had absolutely no knowledge prior to that,” said ADINAH.

Photographer Samantha Lotman said she was invited by Gabertai through Instagram to photograph his Oakland show. "I didn’t meet anyone named Sam or Baka," she said. "I didn’t know that the crowd was promised cash until a few days later. It definitely seemed like the crowd did not know his music. The vibe was off from the beginning."

REALITY BITES

Fudging the truth for clout in the hip-hop community is certainly nothing new and no one seems to be blaming Dr. Maleek for some puffery.

After all, there is no shame in asking young women to act as selfie-seekers in Times Square or in claiming to be “originally from Long Beach” when he actually grew up 80 kilometres east in Corona and Norco.

There’s arguably no harm in having a stage name that includes the “Dr.” title. (In 2018, when he claimed to have just turned 23, he said he did two years at UC Irvine and then two years at UCLA medical school before taking “a leave of absence.”)

And he’s certainly not the first person to boost his follower counts on Twitter and Instagram with bots and fake accounts, made obvious by a dearth of organic engagement – replies, shares or comments – with his posts.

(Dr. Maleek did not respond to iHeartRadio.ca when asked how much he spent to purchase followers on his social media accounts.)

What irritates victims of the fan scam are recent Instagram posts that feature photos of the crowds at his concerts in Oakland and New York City – crowds made up of people who believed they were getting paid to be photographed pretending to be excited fans.

Even though he has blocked many of the people who have publicly called him out, fan scam victims are closely monitoring his social media accounts.

“I know he will never be able to post about a performance again without us calling the venue,” said David. Angie added: “No matter what we will put an end to his career.”

This might seem unfair to Dr. Maleek, who has denied involvement in the fan scam. “I have no idea where this is coming from … I have nothing to do with scamming,” he told one victim in a DM in December. He told another: “We do not pay people to come to our shows."

(Dr. Maleek did not respond when asked if he believes he will ever be able to perform again.)

But, if anyone is still buying his hype, it’s Gabertai.

In an Instagram Story last month, he described the We Outside tour as “a huge success.” (In fact, all but two of the eight scheduled shows were cancelled – and most of the people who bought tickets thought they were getting paid.)

In a 2018 interview, Dr. Maleek spelled out his goal. “I want to be the biggest artist in the world. Until then… that’s the only goal really. Just to be the biggest artist in the world.”

Since December, though, there have been some signs of self-reflection.

In a recent Instagram Story, he shared the words: “I was toxic to some, I was blessing to others. Some I healed, others I hurt. I’m willing to admit that I wasn’t always right.” Dr. Maleek added: “Just the way of life…”

CeeHudd, the DJ hired by Gabertai, said he supports the fan scam victims who are calling out Dr. Maleek.

“This is something that needs to have more attention on it because it’s just bogus, the whole situation,” he said, “and the fact that no one actually knows who he is.”

 

This article has been updated since it was first published. Where indicated, names have been changed upon request.