Pizza franchise chain founder charged

Toronto Police have charged the founder of the 3 for 1 Pizza & Wings Inc. franchise chain with fraud. President Reza Solhi, 36, of Richmond Hill, faces charges on 13 counts of fraud over $5,000 in connection with the sale of franchises…Police say the two men targeted new Canadians with television, radio, newspaper and magazine advertisements, promising a complete business operation with training and support.

The Toronto Star
March 19, 2004

Pizza franchise chain founder charged
Reza Solhi faces 13 counts of fraud. New Canadians responded to ads.
James Daw

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Toronto Police have charged the founder of the 3 for 1 Pizza & Wings Inc. franchise chain with fraud.

President Reza Solhi, 36, of Richmond Hill, faces charges on 13 counts of fraud over $5,000 in connection with the sale of franchises.

Also charged is his associate Farzad Bagherzadeh, 31, of Toronto, who is named as an executive of assorted other companies connected with the franchise chain and ran the company's telephone call centre.

Police say the two men targeted new Canadians with television, radio, newspaper and magazine advertisements, promising a complete business operation with training and support.

"A number of people from across Canada responded to these advertisements and subsequently dealt with the accused men," said Detective Ted Gaskin of the Toronto police fraud squad.

"Those people who expressed a desire to become franchisees (and) made significant payments for the franchises … never received their stores and the accused men refused to return their monies," he said in a news release.

The charges relate to the period from September, 1999, to July, 2003. Solhi's company was founded in 1992, and once claimed to have more than 90 franchise locations.

Solhi maintains offices in a Bay St. office tower. He lives in a large suburban home that was purchased for $1 million in 1997 by a numbered company that listed Solhi as the secretary.

The Star reported in a series of stories last year that Solhi, Bagherzadeh and their companies had been named in about 20 lawsuits and counterclaims involving former and prospective franchisees.

Judges have ordered refunds in a few cases, but even with the backing of the courts, prospective franchisees and others have had difficulty recovering money.

"There are at least five unsatisfied court judgments outstanding against 3 for 1 or companies affiliated, related or associated with it," lawyer Jeffrey Hoffman said last year. At least three other judgments have been awarded since then.

Late in 2002, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a judge's ruling that Jamshed Ali of Mississauga was a victim of fraudulent misrepresentation when he lost a $35,000 deposit in 1997. Ali was awarded $85,000 in damages and legal costs, but said last spring that he had been unable to collect the money.

Sheryl MacDonald, an Oakville mother of five, stated in court documents that she gave up a high-paid government job and paid $126,735 for a 3 for 1 store that was never built.

Solhi and Bagherzadeh's group sued her for $3.1 million after she demanded $407,540 in compensation. When she didn't get it, she went to the police with allegations of conspiracy and fraud.

Solhi told the Star last year: "Many wild and unfounded allegations have been made by adverse parties. These adverse parties are really ‘bad apples’ who have caused a lot of damage to 3 for 1 Pizza & Wings."

Gaskin said yesterday he was unable to provide further information about the fraud charges he investigated. Police are asking others who feel they were defrauded to contact Gaskin at 416-808-7335.


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