Quantcast
Connect with us

US arrests Brazilian in fraud probe, seizes $20 million under mattress

Published

on

U.S. prosecutors on Thursday announced that about $20 million found under a mattress in a Massachusetts apartment had been seized after a Brazilian man was arrested for laundering money linked to a multi-billion-dollar global fraud.

Federal prosecutors in Boston charged Cleber Rene Rizerio Rocha, 28, with conspiring to commit money laundering in a case connected to the investigation of TelexFree Inc, which promoted itself as an internet telecom company but prosecutors say was actually a pyramid scheme.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rocha was detained following a court hearing, prosecutors said. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The arrest stemmed from an investigation into TelexFree, a Marlborough, Massachusetts-based company that sold voice-over-internet telephone service and was founded by James Merrill, a U.S. citizen, and Carlos Wanzeler, a Brazilian.

Prosecutors said TelexFree was a massive pyramid scheme, making little to no money selling its service while taking in millions of dollars from thousands of people who paid to sign up to be “promoters” and post ads online for it.

TelexFree filed for bankruptcy in April 2014 owing $5 billion to its participants, prosecutors said. In total, 965,225 victims in the United States, Brazil and various other countries lost $1.76 billion when it collapsed, they said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Merrill was arrested in May 2014 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud charges in October. Wanzeler in 2014 fled to Brazil and could not be extradited.

According to Thursday’s criminal complaint, in 2015, an individual working on Wanzeler’s nephew’s behalf approached a cooperating witness about laundering money still in the United States through Hong Kong accounts and moving the funds to Brazil.

The intermediary told the witness that she wanted $40 million transferred out of the country because Wanzeler’s wife, still in the United States, was filing for divorce and knew where it was located, the complaint said.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Dec. 31, Rocha, acting as a courier for Wanzeler’s nephew, flew to the United States and subsequently met on Wednesday with the cooperating witness, whom he gave $2.2 million in a suitcase, according to authorities.

After the meeting, federal agents followed Rocha to an apartment complex in Westborough, Massachusetts.

They returned to it after arresting Rocha to find a “substantial amount of cash” hidden under a mattress, the complaint said. Rocha said the money totaled $20 million, the complaint said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Wanzeler’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is U.S. v. Rocha, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, No. 17-mj-05007.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Leslie Adler)

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Left wing hack’: Fox News fans lose it after anchor calls Ukraine allegations ‘a problem’ for Trump

Published

on

Fox News viewers lashed out at the network on Sunday after host Arthel Neville grilled New York Congressman Peter King (R) about President Donald Trump's alleged effort to get Ukraine to help him defeat Joe Biden.

Neville twice asked King about Trump's Ukraine scandal, and both times he evaded the question by saying that Congress does not have a right to know the details of Trump's conversations with foreign leaders.

On her third attempt, Neville got to the point by noting Trump's alleged actions are "a problem."

"We don’t know that it’s true, we hope it’s not true," the Fox News host said of the allegations against Trump. "But if there is a possibility that our president used his office to put pressure on a foreign government -- president-elect -- to dig into his possible, potential political opponent, then that’s a problem."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

New York Times battered on MSNBC for pushing smear of Hunter Biden in order to maintain access to Trump

Published

on

An "AM Joy" panel jumped all over the New York Times for pushing a widely debunked smear of Hunter Biden promoted by Donald Trump, saying the newspaper is more interested in maintaining their access to the Oval Office than debunking the lie.

Speaking with host Joy Reid -- who noted that her producers asked for comment from the Times but were rebuffed -- MSNBC regular Maria Teresa Kumar scorched the Times, as well as reporter Ken Vogel, for the uncritical parroting of the president's smear.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Ukrainian journalist throws down gauntlet after Giuliani smear: ‘I express my readiness to testify’

Published

on

A Ukrainian journalist said on Sunday that he would be willing to testify to Congress against President Donald Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

After Giuliani unleashed a bizarre rant on CNN accusing Democrats of trying to get help from Ukraine in the 2016 election, Ukrainian journalist Serhiy Leshchenko wrote an op-ed exposing the accusation as a lie.

In his op-ed, Leshchenko explains:

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the Manafort revelations would become fodder for the U.S. elections in 2020. President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, the mouthpiece of this campaign, is not only attempting to rehabilitate Manafort but is also working to undermine U.S. relations with Ukraine, which has been confronting Russian aggression on its own for more than five years. Giuliani and his associates are trying to drag our newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into a conflict between two foreign political parties, drastically limiting Ukraine’s room for maneuver in respect to the United States, perhaps its most important international partner.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Investigate and Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image