(We updated this article after being contacted by the original XOXO Fest in Portland. Following a brief trademark dispute, the Northern California festival shortened its name to XO Fest and is currently updating its social media pages, prompting us to update our story.)
An individual confirmed to Amplify to be the organizer of the mysterious XO Fest in Northern California was arrested by Fremont Police in February along with his brother and charged with more than 40 felonies, Amplify has learned.
Two sources have confirmed that a man calling himself Sami Habib is the mystery promoter behind the XO festival slated to be held in July at the Contra Costa Fairgrounds in Antioch, California. Fremont police say Sami Habib is an alias for Habibullah Qadir, who was arrested with his 30-year-old brother Mohammed Qadir as part of a real estate scam involving high-end properties. According to the police, the men allegedly lied about their backgrounds to Bay Area landlords and leased multiple properties under fake names, never paying rent and causing damage to the properties, with financial losses adding up to $120,000.
One source who had met with a man calling himself Sami Habib about a vendor contract at XO Festival confirmed to Amplify that the person he met matched the mugshot below (left) of Habibullah Qadir. Sami Habib is also listed as the agent of service for World Class Entertainment Inc. by California’s Secretary of State. In February, an attorney for World Class Entertainment filed a trademark request for XOXO Festival (which was later changed to XO Festival after it was discovered another event already owned the name).
Habibullah Qadir and Mohammed Qadir
Earlier today, Amplify published an article detailing the festival organizer’s attempts to conceal their identities and refusal to tell Amplify who was involved in the event. Amplify even submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Contra Costa Fairgrounds for a copy of the contract for the XO event. Contra Costa Event Park CEO Joe Brengle released a redacted copy of the contract to Amplify buy would not provide the name of the individual who rented the site for $27,000 for the July 13-15 event. Brengle’s attempt to conceal Qadir’s involvement in the festival raises serious ethical questions about the public’s right to know who is using state property to stage for-profit events.
The men are currently out on bail for the rental fraud scheme, in which the brothers allegedly obtained leases for single-family homes in high-end neighborhoods and then failed to pay rent and forced the landlords to evict them, staying in the properties rent-free for months at a time. According to police, the pair used fake names, social security cards, drivers licenses and other info to secure the rentals, part of a scheme dating back to 2015.
“In each rental, police said, the brothers and their families fled the residence just before they were physically removed by authorities, sometimes, taking with them large appliances or other items that belonged to the landlords and often leaving the properties trashed,” the East Bay Times reports. “Police said each landlord reported they could not rent their properties again until significant cleansings and repairs were done.”
Beyond the housing scheme, Habibullah Qadir has a criminal history, according to police, including operating a food truck without a license.
The men’s criminal history explains why the pair have gone to great lengths to conceal their involvement in XO Festival, although several talent buyers and agents have confirmed to Amplify that the festival is current on artist deposits and will likely move ahead as planned. While organizers might have a difficult time delivering the event they promised on XO Fest’s flashy sizzle video, the concert is on track to actually happen.