Fraudster on the run from 8 year jail term taunts victims with Instagram account of his lavish lifestyle

Hayley Dixon
Sami Raja has been posting pictures of himself travelling the world in five star hotels and designer clothes. - samiraja.com/samiraja.com

A fraudster jailed for eight years for targeting the elderly in a £2.4m scam is being allowed to live the high life on the run in Dubai as he taunts his victims on social media, the Daily Telegraph can reveal.

Sami Raja has been posting pictures of himself travelling the world in five star hotels and designer clothes.

Whilst the authorities know where he is, they have not yet attempted to bring him back to Britain to serve his jail term.

The 32-year-old is currently appealing his conviction and sentence and it is understood that the Crown Prosecution Service is waiting for the outcome of the case before applying for extradition.

Last night Raja’s victims said that it “makes you sick” that he has been able to ruin people’s lives and then live a life of luxury on the proceeds of his crimes as they called on authorities to bring him to justice.

Raja was sentenced in January last year (2019) to 8 years behind bars for his part in mis-selling carbon credits to 130 victims and using the profits to buy luxury items including a £33,000 Aston Martin and a £4,000 Rolex.

But by the time he was sentenced Raja, one of the so-called Rich Kids of London on Instagram, was already on the run from justice.

He did not turn up to his trial at Southwark Crown Court and social media posts suggest he was already in Dubai in November 2017.

Since then he has posted images of himself wearing expensive designer clothes and watches and holidaying in Ibiza, the United Arab Emirates, Punjab and some of the Gulf state’s most luxurious hotels.

Just three days after his sentencing in he was posting pictures of himself in a luxury resort in the Maldives which is only accessible by sea plane and where rooms go for up to £10,000 a night.

Accompanying one image of himself in an infinity Jacuzzi overlooking the sea he wrote: “Aint no one bursting my bubble”.

Raja in an infinity Jacuzzi Credit: Instagram

Days after he was handed an eight year jail term he posted images of himself back in Dubai at a five star hotel with the message: “Im living life right now man and this is what ill do till its over”.

One of his alleged victims is 89-year-old Dennis Smith, who lost a quarter of a million pounds to Raja and his accomplices. Mr Smith said: “The way Raja is living now makes you sick.  I think that the police should be pursuing him to wipe the smile off of his face.”

In his trial it was heard that Raja and four accomplices had targeted the over 50s living in affluent areas through two companies - Harman Royce Ltd and Kendrick Zale Ltd .

They persuaded people to hand over their life savings to buy carbon credits for around 25 times the market value at £6.50 a credit. In addition there was no secondary market to trade the credit, making them useless.

The second company, Kendrick Zale, was set up after Harman Royce had found to have defrauded clients and police said at the time that it proved the “callous nature” of the fraud.

Raja has posted pictures of himself in the United Arab Emirates Credit: Instagram/Instagram

Raja was arrested in September 2013 but the trial took a number of years before it made it before the courts. In the meantime Raja had apparently continued his scams, targeting people such as Mr Smith and Kevin Cresswell with promises of high returns on investments that never paid back a penny.

Mr Cresswell invested £300,000 in Park First airport parking spaces after being cold called by Raja in 2015 and was then regularly harassed by him asking him to make other investments.

Mr Cresswell, 50, told the Telegraph: “It is unbelievable that he is not in prison, it’s ridiculous. “How can he just disappear after he has ripped so many people off? If it is within their power police should be doing everything they can to bring him to justice, they should be banging down doors.

“Raja is living the life of luxury on the proceeds of fraud. You can’t get sentenced and then just carry on living the life of Riley.

“It is not like he is under the radar, but it would seem like it is bottom of the priority list as it is white collar crime. But a lot of people have been ripped off and it has ruined their lives, he should be a bit higher up the priority list."

Raja is accused of living a life of luxury Credit: samiraja.com/samiraja.com

The Financial Conduct Authority is currently investigating Park First Limited which it said ran an “unlawful investment scheme” and Mr Cresswell is hoping to get some money back. Raja was banned from acting as a director of a company in 2016 because of his illegal sale of carbon credits.

However, he is now running a consultancy firm in the Gulf state and in promotional material sent out just weeks after his sentence he was described as the CEO and founder of the company which “specialized in assisting investors to set up and expand their businesses in the United Arab Emirates and the UK”.

Raja is also linked to a website for a company called the Foras group, which claims to be an investment group and includes his life story under the heading “the untold story of a visionary” on its blog. No trace could be found of the companies it claims to have helped.

Britain does have an extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates, but there have been a number of high profile fraud cases in which they have refused to send the offender back to Britain.

A spokesman for the City of London Police, said: “Sami Raja is appealing both his convictions and sentence. Issues regarding extradition are a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).”

It is understood that investigating officers had no concerns about him absconding and therefore there were no bail conditions restricting his travel. 

A spokesperson for Safe Or Scam, an organisation which investigates investment frauds, told the Telegraph: "For every Sami Raja who is caught there are a hundred who are not. The number of scam investments and dishonest sales agents increase every year.

“Investor losses are truly staggering and go largely unreported. Only the really big ones come to light. 

“Raja, and others like him, know that investors literally have nowhere to go. If they report it to the Police it is hardly ever followed up and if they think about going to a solicitor they are put off by the expense.

“The authorities have to start taking this much more seriously and intervening much earlier. People like Raja destroy peoples lives.”

The CPS said that it could not comment on ongoing cases. Raja did not respond to a request for comment.

Case Study: How Raja's con left victim Dennis Smith £250,000 out of pocket

Dennis Smith had always opted for safe investments like fixed rate bonds which though reliable did not offer a great return on his money.

So when Sami Raja contacted him from 2016 saying he could offer him interest rates of around eight per cent, the 89-year-old could not help but be tempted. Dennis Smith invested more than a quarter of a million pounds with various schemes with a cold callers. 

His first investment was in a wind farm and he dealt with Raja over the phone on a regular basis as he convinced him to invest £75,000 in the project.

“He was always on the phone,” said Mr Smith, who was widowed eight years ago.

“He wanted to know what know car I drive and how I got my money.  At the time I didn’t know any different and I thought he was just quite a friendly chap and I was on my own all the time.”

“I think I was definitely targeted. They were more or less trying to find out what I had.”

Despite the glossy brochures and promises of high return, Mr Smith never once saw his interest payments or a penny of his money back and the company promising to build the wind farm has since gone bust.

After he had agreed to invest with Raja he was passed on to another broker, who he believes was using a fake name, and in the end he handed over a quarter of a million pounds.

Mr Smith said: “What is annoying is that Raja was allowed to escape. Did they even take his passport away? 

“Before I was comfortable, but now I have to think about everything before I spend any money.

“I feel as if I have robbed my two kids and I haven’t even told them everything. I am now wary of trusting people.”

The former barber added:  “I can’t really describe how I feel about him without swearing. I was obviously very put out when it all happened and I thought to myself how much longer have I got, I am not going to let it ruin the rest of my life.”