There were about 40
people on the zoom call, or at least those who were there. This staff meeting
at Glamorous Design Agency was convened to welcome newcomers to the growing
company
.

 

His name was Mad Bird,
and his dynamic and inspiring boss, Ali Iyad, wanted everyone on the call to
act enthusiastically, just as they do themselves
.

 

However, those who had
turned on their cameras did not know that some of the people in the meeting
were not real people. Yes, they were listed as participants
.

 

Some had active e-mail
accounts and ‘LinkedIn’ profiles but their names were forged and their
headshots or facial photos were of other people or not real. ‘ A few months
before this zoom call, I started working for ‘Mad Bird’ in October 2020
.

 

They were told they
would work from home. The global epidemic was still spreading, so it was normal
.

 

Cowde ruined Chris’
life. His first job was lost because of the epidemic, and that’s why he applied
for a job at Medbird
.

 

The job advertisement
claimed that it was “a digital design agency based in London with a focus
on humans and that it operates around the world
.”

 

Medbird recruited more
than 50 people. Most of them worked in sales, some in design and some in
supervision
.

 

Each newcomer was
instructed to work from home, including texting and zooming
.

 

The other staff lived
outside the UK. Aspiring to make a mark in the global market, Med Bird’s Human
Resources or HR department had advertised vacancies online in the international
sales team from Dubai. At least a dozen people were hired from Uganda, India,
South Africa, the Philippines and other countries
.

 

For them, the job
meant not only a paycheck but also a UK visa. If they complete their six-month
transition period, and meet their sales targets, their contracts state that
Medbird will sponsor them to relocate to the UK
.

 

Ali Iyad knew what it
meant to live a new life in Britain. Before settling in London, he often talked
to the Mad Bird crew about his past, but his story kept changing
.

 

In front of a man, he
introduced himself as a ‘Mormon’, a sect based in the US state of Utah.
According to others, he was from Lebanon, where he had somehow learned to be a
good businessman from the difficult circumstances of his childhood
.

 

He even changed his
name. Sometimes he would add another ‘Y’ to his nickname and write ‘Iyad’. He
used to sign as ‘Alex Ed’. However, there were some chapters in his story which
were not changed. Most importantly, he also spent some time with the famous
company Nike, where he was a creative designer
.

 

He also told each of
his colleagues that he had been working at Nike’s headquarters in the US state
of Oregon. This is where he met Dave Steinfeld, co-founder of Midbird
.

 

The story that Ali
told about his illustrious career did not seem far from the truth. He spoke
very impressively during video calls
.

 

The depth of his
words, the charismatic personality, he even seemed to be a caring person. He
spoke with great confidence, sometimes even trying to fool people by making
superfluous claims
.

 

This is the style of
governing the country that he has used in Russia
.

 

Midbird’s staff had no
reason to doubt Ali’s Nike story. And even if they were skeptical, they could
visit Ali’s LinkedIn profile, where compliments were made by Ali’s old
colleagues
.

 

For the next several
months, Midbird’s business continued to thrive, and during this time more
people were hired in the design sector to complete the bundle of contracts that
the company’s sales team had brought
.

 

But before Midbird’s
reality was revealed, its employees began to face problems. The bizarre way in
which the company contracted with them resulted in the employees not being paid
yet
.

 

Under the agreement,
all employees had agreed to work on the commission for the first six months and
would receive a monthly salary only after completing six months of probation.
Most employees were promised between
ہزار 35,000 and ہزار 47,300 a month.

 

According to the
agreement, until the start of the monthly salary, each employee will be given a
certain portion of the deal that he has agreed to
.

 

All of these employees
were young people who were simply looking for work in the days of the plague
and often thought they had no choice but to accept Midbird’s terms
.

 

But the fact is that
none of the company’s tastes have come to fruition. As of February 2021, no
contract had been signed with any buyer and no Med Bird employee had received a
penny
.

 

Some people quit their
jobs after a week, but stayed longer. Many stayed with the company for about
six months, living on credit cards that paid off their bills by borrowing from
family members.

 

It is now clear that
none of Midbird’s employees were ever paid. The company was not making any
money. But newcomers didn’t know it. He was under the misconception that the
employment contracts he had entered into with the company were of a special
kind and that his managers would certainly be receiving salaries. The company
was soon to complete many deals and the money was coming.

 

That may seem like a
long time ago, but then came the afternoon when the whole company collapsed.
Two employees, Jima Brett and Antonio Stewart, suspected something was wrong.
He tried to find out where the pictures of his co-workers started, using the
‘reverse image’ method on the internet. He soon found out that many of his co-workers
did not exist at all. The two decided to send an email to all the company’s
staff under the pseudonym Jane Smith.

 

The e-mail he sent
this afternoon seemed to be a big deal for the company and everyone was busy.
In the e-mail, he accused the founders of Mad Bird of “shameful and
immoral” behavior and wrote that they had stolen other people’s creative
work and created “fake” staff.

 

For the real employees
of the company, these revelations were shocking. He felt that what he was doing
for the company was a lie.

 

Now he began to
realize that the hard work he had put in for the past several months and the
amount of time he had given to the company would not be compensated. Discounts
and stolen profiles

We found out that the
company’s claim that “we have the experience to sell our products locally
and globally for the last ten years” was false.

 

In contrast, Ali Iyad
legally registered his company in the UK on the same day that he interviewed
Chris Dossey for the position of Sales Manager, on September 23, 2020.

 

There were at least
six of Midbird’s senior managers who were fake, meaning they didn’t really
exist. Their identities were made by stealing pictures of various people on the
Internet, and their names were made out of them. There was also a new affidavit
of Ali and Ali used to mention it all the time.

 

Some of the deceived
staff had even received emails from the fake founder.

 

Ali had also told an
employee to send an e-mail to Dave if he wanted to contact him because he was
too busy with a project with Nike to pick up the phone.

 

Using facial
recognition technology in their research, we also learned that the image of
Dave Steinfeld that was shown at the Zoom Meetings was actually that of
Mitchell Kallis, a honeymooner based in Prague, Czech Republic. Engaged in the
bee business. When we contacted him, he said he had never heard of Madbird, Ali
Iyad or Dave Steinfeld.

 

Another of these fake
managers was Nigel Whites. The person using the name was also present at the
Zoom Call in January, but his picture was not of a graphic designer but of a
model that was stolen from Google.

 

When we searched for
pictures on Google with the words ‘Gingerman’, the first thing that came up was
the person’s face. This person’s face was everywhere on the internet.

 

We also contacted all
42 people Medbird claimed had worked for the company in the past. None of the
people who responded to our request had ever worked at Madward.

 

Ali’s own story turned
out to be a lie when we explored the matter further. Contrary to his claims,
Ali had never worked with Nike as a ‘creative lead’.

 

Nike confirmed to us
in writing that the company had never hired a person named Ali Iyad, nor any
other person with a similar (nickname) name. And then I visited Ali’s Instagram
account where he More than 90,000 fans were told what they have done and are
still doing as a model and influencer.

 

Ali’s Instagram
account was one of the main reasons why the Midbird employees cheated and
praised Ali. But the fact is that the picture of Ali’s life on Instagram was
far from his real life.

 

One of his posts on
Instagram caught our attention.

 

In this photo, Ali
Iyad was opening the page of the famous fashion magazine ‘GQ’ where he was
modeling wearing a jacket of the famous Spanish brand ‘Massimo Dutti’.

 

But when we took that
issue of GQ and opened its page number 63, there was no picture of Ali, but
there was a clock advertisement on that page.

 

The investigation
revealed that Ali Iyad had never modeled for Massimo Dutti and no picture of
him had ever been published in GQ.

 

When Midbird’s staff
found out they had been cheated, they were shocked. Since Elvis John was working
in Dubai these days, the problems for him became more serious.

 

He says that if he had
made a deal as a representative of Midbird, he could have been given a deal
because of the strict rules in Dubai, and could have been sentenced to
imprisonment or deported back to India.

 

“I
don’t know if Ali will ever realize how much trouble he has put us all
in,” Elvis said. Elvis thinks Ali did all this as if it were a game.

 

Many employees were
ashamed that they had been deceived so much. Some even kept it a secret from
friends and family for days and weeks.

 

And for some as a baby
gets older, he or she will outgrow this. Whenever he tried to explain what had
happened to him, people would ask questions that the cheating staff did not
have the answers to.

 

Did Ali know the
consequences of his actions?

 

For a long time, Ali
said that he wanted to state his position on how all this happened. Messages
were exchanged between us and Ali Iyad for months and finally he came to the
BBC office and agreed to give an interview in front of the camera.

 

However, the day before,
he refused to come. If we were to take Ali’s position, we would have no choice
but to try to contact him.

 

Face to face with Ali

Finally, one day in
October last year, a road in London was blocked and we came across Ali. He was
wearing a black leather jacket and was walking towards a tube station.

 

Even if they were
surprised to see us, they did not let us appear, and when we started asking
questions, at first they tried to ignore us. But after a while, they were
forced to answer our questions.
۔

 

Ali insisted he was
trying to do something good. “All I know is that we created some great
opportunities for people in the code days.

 

When we accused them
of creating fake accounts and stealing other people’s work, they got angry.

 

“Did
I do that?”

 

“How
did you know I did that?”

 

Was Ali trying to say
that someone else was involved?

 

But when we insisted,
they did not name anyone else.

 

There was always the
possibility that there might be another mastermind behind the matter, and that
was something we had been thinking about from the beginning. But since Ali
never named anyone and did not help, we were unable to do further research.

 

Ali also insisted that
Medbird had its own office, but when we repeatedly asked where that office was,
Ali changed his mind and said that he meant a virtual office. For the office,
“You don’t have to have computers and other things, do you?”

 

“It’s
a digital company.”

 

Ali did not answer our
questions after that.

 

Until Ali answers our
questions, we will never be able to say for sure why Ali Iyad finally created
Madbird.



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2022-03-19

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