Pyramid scheme

Federal prosecutors on Thursday said they seized $20 million from a mattress. According to US authorities, Cléber Rene Rizério Rocha, 28, was arrested in the same apartment in Massachusetts where the amount was discovered. Rocha is accused of Money laundering in a multi-billion-dollar fraud scheme involving TelexFree, an internet-based telephone company (Voip) accused of promoting financial pyramids.

According to the American investigation, Rocha acted as a messenger for the nephew of Brazilian Carlos Wenzeler, partner of TelexFree.

On Dec. 31, Rocha arrived in the United States and delivered a $ 2.2 million briefcase to a person who is collaborating with the Boston attorney's investigation. After that meeting, federal agents followed Rocha to an apartment in Westborough, Mass., where he was detained. After the arrest, the investigators returned to the property and discovered the money. The Brazilian himself stated that the amount was 20 million dollars.

About the company

Founded by James Merrill, TelexFree is being investigated by the Boston attorney's office as a grand money pyramid scheme, which made little money selling services, but made millions of dollars by making people pay a subscription fee to be promoters. The company is headquartered in Marlborough, also in Massachusetts.

In April 2014, TelexFree filed for bankruptcy with $5 billion in debt. Prosecutors estimate that the number of victims of the scam is roughly 965,000 in the United States, Brazil, and other countries. Losses from TelexFree customers totaled $1.76 billion. Merrill was arrested a month after filing for bankruptcy. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and electronic fraud in October.

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Wanzeler fled to Brazil in 2014 and cannot be extradited.

According to the criminal complaint on Thursday, a person acting on behalf of a Wanzeler nephew approached a witness, who cooperated with the authorities to talk about laundering money that was in the US. Using bills in Hong Kong and moving the funds on behalf of Brazil, this person would have asked the witness for $40 million, to be transferred out of the country, because Wanzeler's wife (still living in the United States), would be seeking a divorce, and knew where the money was located.