On social media, Fereidoun “Fred” Khalilian, 51, appeared to have it all. Styling himself as “Prince Fred,” Khalilian posted about trips to Paris and Dubai, driving luxury cars, dating models, and hanging out with rappers Akon, Mally Mall and Tyga, singers Usher and Demi Lovato, actors Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, and musician David Guetta.
Khalilian, who claimed to have fled Iran as a child and spent time in a German refugee camp, made a name for himself in Florida, where in the mid-2000s he co-owned Club Paris with Paris Hilton and palled around with Tiger Woods. Now, his LinkedIn states he is an “entertainment agent” and “chairman and CEO” of Blockchain Consulting Group LLC.
But behind the glitz and the glamor there was a darker story. Over the last two decades Khalilian has had a string of encounters with law enforcement, and run multiple frauds, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Each time, he has managed to reinvent himself, as an entrepreneur, nightlife investor, and most recently, crypto-bro.
The latest chapter in Khalilian’s colorful life ended in a Las Vegas Dunkin’ Donuts, where federal agents arrested him Wednesday on suspicion of orchestrating a murder-for-hire plot, first reported by the Los Angeles Times. The details, outlined in court filings obtained by The Daily Beast, tell a bizarre tale. Khalilian is alleged to have offered a former bodyguard $20,000 to kill a filmmaker working on an unflattering documentary about him.
But the bodyguard and the man he was supposed to kill turned the plot back on Khalilian, faking a murder scene and sending staged photographs, according to court records. Khalilian fell for it, sending thousands of dollars in payment to the hitman, the FBI says, who by then was working with federal agents to bring Khalilian down.
A chance meeting
In 2009, Khalilian met the man he would later allegedly hire a hitman to kill, in Miami, according to the FBI. The person, referred to only as “Victim One” in the court filings, was working at a computer repair store and fixed a computer Khalilian brought in, court records say.
Victim One told the FBI Khalilian “drove a Range Rover and claimed to also have a Lamborghini and Bugatti at his mansion” and that he “wore expensive jewelry and claimed to be a billionaire.”
Khalilian was a well-known figure in Florida nightlife circles. A profile of him in The Florida Times-Union two years earlier described him as “an ambitious entrepreneur” who claimed to have fled Iran as a child, and lived for a time in a German refugee camp before resettling in the United States in 1989.
He claimed to have made millions “selling domain names and opening a performance nightclub,” according to the newspaper. Khalilian had “big plans” and wanted to be an “international nightclub franchise-owner, reality television star, billionaire and future governor of Florida,” he told the paper. They described him as a person who “works with the urgency of a person who’s known desperation and won’t go back.”
In 2005, he opened Club Paris with Paris Hilton, an Orlando nightclub. Hilton invested $3 million in the club, and was “required to make four appearances a year at the Orlando location,” People reported at the time.
Hilton did not respond to a request for comment.
Club Paris brought Khalilian into contact with celebrities, like the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and Tiger Woods, who was a frequent guest at the club with the two frequently hanging out, smoking cigars in Khalilian’s office and talking about sports, according to a biography of Woods.
Behind the flashy public person, Khalilian had a checkered personal life, The Florida Times-Union reported. He had “a restraining order, a couple of outstanding domestic violence charges and an arrest at the Ritz bar in Jacksonville Beach,” the newspaper found.
Khalilian’s connection to Hilton got him frequent TMZ write-ups—but they were not always flattering. The tabloid reported that in 2005, police were called after a passerby reported Khalilian was trying to rape a woman outside Club Paris. “I’m a diplomat. You can’t arrest me. I own Club Paris,” Khalilian allegedly told the police, according to a police report viewed by TMZ. (He was later found guilty on a battery charge and ordered to complete an anger management course, according to court records)
When Hilton failed to show up for scheduled appearances at the club, the relationship soured. In April 2007, Khalilian “fired” Hilton and the club shut down the following year. Khalilian was hit with a suit from a former employee alleging he demanded sex from her and retaliated against her when she refused. A federal judge found in the woman’s favor, and ruled Khalilian owed her $14,000 in compensation.
In late 2007, Khalilian was charged with sexual battery and false imprisonment after a former employee at Club Paris told Orlando police he had raped her in his apartment, according to the Orlando Sentinel. (Khalilian pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to one year probation.)
All this was behind Khalilian when he met with Victim One. Pleased with his work fixing the computer, Khalilian offered him a job paying three times as much as his computer repair job, according to court records. Victim One started working as an IT specialist at My Car Solutions, which the FBI describes as “a robocall service offering extended warranties for vehicles.”
His job was “slow-paced,” Victim One told the FBI, and he was able to listen in on the calls of other operators. Victim One told the FBI he soon suspected that Khalilian was “running a scam that targeted the elderly and sought to defraud them with non-existent extended warranties.”
His suspicions seemed well-founded when a few months later, My Car Solution was raided by federal authorities. The company was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and fined $4 million. Khalilian, who was dubbed the “king of robocallers,” was banned from telemarketing “making any misrepresentations or omissions when selling any goods or services,” according to the FTC’s final ruling.
(It wasn’t Khalilian’s first brush with the FTC. Ten years earlier he was banned from all travel-related telemarketing, and ordered to pay $185,000 to consumers, after making deceptive pitches for travel packages, according to reporting by NorthJersey.com).
Despite his financial problems, Khalilian appeared to Victim One to be “wealthy” and to “live an extravagant lifestyle that included luxury vehicles, expensive jewelry, and a security detail of at least four bodyguards who accompanied him whenever he was out,” Victim One told the FBI. He saw Khalilian drop $50,000 in a single evening at a nightclub, according to court documents, and heard him attribute his wealth to being a “royal prince from the Middle East.” Victim One told the FBI he came to doubt Khalilian’s stories about his background when he heard him claim to be from “varying Middle Eastern countries depending on who he was trying to strike business deals with.”
In 2013, Victim One moved to Los Angeles and built a career in the film industry, he told the FBI, and six years later he ran into Khalilian by accident. Khalilian introduced himself as “Prince Fred” and told Victim One’s friends he was “a prince from Dubai,” according to court records.
Intrigued, Victim One searched Khalilian’s name on the internet, he told the FBI, and found news stories linking him “to numerous fraud cases.” He decided to make a documentary about Khalilian, with a focus on his “life of fraud and deception,” according to the court filings. Victim One convinced Khalilian to participate in the documentary by, “minimizing the fact that the documentary was an exposé and instead emphasizing the great publicity this would bring.”
As part of his documentary, Victim One interviewed not only Khalilian, but those around him, according to court records. He spoke with Khalilian’s bodyguards, investors, and “victims of Khalilian’s fraud.” Some of the bodyguards told Victim One that Khalilian would “have them wear Secret Service pins and fake earpieces that were not connected to radios and tell people that Khalilian was a diplomat,” according to the filings.
The filmmaker even traveled to Oklahoma and met with members of the Iowa Tribe, who in 2017 entered into a deal with Khalilian to launch an internal gambling website, according to the Tulsa World. “The tribe bought Khalilian’s software for approximately $9 million, but the software did not work” Victim One told the FBI, “and Khalilian refused to return the money.”
At that time, Khalilian was chief operating officer of Monster Products Inc, an audio company known for developing Beats By Dre headphones. Khalilian had persuaded Monster to buy a 49 percent interest in the Iowa Tribe’s poker website, The Frontier reported. Shortly after the Iowa Tribe received a license to launch its website, two other tribes, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma filed suit against Khalilian in federal court alleging he had cheated them out of $13 million in a similar scheme three years earlier, according to The Oklahoman.
In 2018, Monster Products announced Khalilian had been “exited” from the company due to “threats of mutilation, death, and threats to family” against employees. The following year, Khalilian was found liable for $4.7 million in damages for swindling a former business partner and using the money to buy Rolex watches, a Lamborghini and stays at deluxe hotels, according to Law.com.
This was Khalilian’s situation when Victim One began working on a documentary about him.
Murder for hire
By February 2022, Khalilian’s enthusiasm for the documentary project about his life was waning, according to the account laid out by federal investigators in court records. Khalilian confided in a man referred to in the records only as “M.S” and “Michael.”
Michael was hired as a bodyguard by Khalilian in 2021, he told the FBI. He told investigators Khalilian “had severe mood swings, and was especially negative about Victim One,” who he described as, “a former employee who was trying to ruin his life with this documentary,” according to Michael’s account. Khalilian was paranoid that someone was trying to hack into his social media accounts, and implied to Michael that it was Victim One, court records show. Eventually, Michael told investigators, he got tired of “dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of working for Khalilian” and quit in May 2022.
Things came to a head when, in March 2023, Victim One made a series of 20 calls to Khalilian’s phone using “spoofed phone numbers.” He told federal investigators he was hoping to record any “inflammatory statements” Khalilian made. Khalilian became enraged, according to Whatsapp messages and recorded calls detailed in the court records.
Khalilian’s girlfriend, a former Miss World contestant—with whom he was vacationing in Paris at the time—did not respond to a request for comment.
“I’m going to fuck you up bitch.” Khalilian told Victim One on a call. “When I’m done with you, I’m going to cut each one of your fucking fingers off. I’m coming for you, motherfucker.”
Khalilian then called his former bodyguard Michael, to complain about the calls Victim One was making, according to court records. Then, federal investigators say, Khalilian asked Michael to help arrange to have Victim One killed. Michael agreed, saying he would ask three Mexicans he knew to help, according to court records.
On March 17, Michael contacted Victim One, and told him Khalilian had offered him $20,000 to carry out the hit, the FBI alleges. The two men then came up with a plan. They “discussed staging a fake death scene to lead Khalilian into believing Victim One had been killed,” according to court records. That afternoon, according to the FBI, Michael texted Khalilian “a staged proof of death photo of Victim One,” along with a message reading: “I have 67 photos and a video.” Khalilian then sent a total of $6,500 to Michael via Cashapp, according to court records.
Four days later, Victim One reported the entire murder-for-hire scheme to the FBI at their Los Angeles field office, according to court documents. The FBI agents directed Michael to make a series of calls to Khalilian, which they recorded.
In one call, Michael told Khalilian that the three Mexicans he had contracted to carry out the killing were asking for money, court records show. “No problem,” Khalilian allegedly replied. In another call, Khalilian allegedly asked Michael “His body, nobody is going to be able to find him, huh?”
Khalilian himself was not so hard to find. FBI investigators took him into custody “without incident” in Las Vegas, according to a statement to The Daily Beast. He was charged on Thursday with “murder for hire.” In cases where no one is ultimately hurt, the charge carries a variable sentence of between zero to 10 years and the possibility of a fine.
Khalilian did not respond to a request for comment. He is being represented by Las Vegas attorneys Richard Schonfeld and David Chesnoff.
Chesnoff, a long-time criminal defense lawyer, has represented a slew of celebrity clients including Martha Stewart, Britney Spears, and more recently, football player Henry Ruggs III.
Notably, Chesnoff represented Paris Hilton in 2010, when she pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor drug charges for cocaine possession.
“Mr Khalilian maintains his innocence and looks forward to defending himself in court. The actions of the government witnesses surely need to be examined, however it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this time,” Schonfeld and Chesnoff told The Daily Beast in a statement.