NEW YORK - A New York City hedge fund manager of Pakistani origin is being held on $1 million cash bail after allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors, reports in American media said Tuesday.

Moazzam “Mark” Malik’s alleged victims include at least 16 investors and date as far back as 2011, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint. A former New York City police department traffic agent, Malik has also been charged by New York City Attorney General Eric Schneiderman with stealing as much as $250,000 from five investors under his jurisdiction.

USA Today reports that 33-year-old Malik, who hails from Lahore, used such manipulative tactics as lying to a national news outlet to attract clients. In March of 2011, a Bloomberg report identified him as a rising fund manager based on data he provided claiming he had a 92.73 percent return investment. In one particular instance, Malik claimed his American Bridge Investment Group had $100 million in assets under management with offices at 40 Wall Street in downtown Manhattan.

But Wall Street Journal, citing New York prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission, said Malik was a fraud. He only raised a fraction of the amounts he said he did, never made any real investments and used the money to pay for a lavish lifestyle, the Journal quoted them as saying. The SEC accuses him of stealing more than $700,000 from investors. “If Malik is convicted, his case would show how fraudsters can exploit fund-ranking services,” the report said.  Investors who asked for their money back from Malik were rebuffed with email replies that ranged from affectionate to indignant to bizzare.

Sol Waksman, founder and president of BarclayHedge, said his firm made it clear to investors that it doesn’t verify the information provided to it by fund managers. Hedge funds are suited to professional investors, who can afford their own due diligence, he added. “The main takeaway from this is ‘let the buyer beware’.”

BarclayHedge primarily provides research to big institutional investors, he said. The firm has decided to stop offering $45 short reports on funds, which might attract small investors, as a result of the Journal’s inquiries, Waksman said.