Federal agents from the FBI and Homeland Security have raided the Marlborough headquarters of TelexFree Inc. in the intensifying investigation of an alleged billion-dollar scheme that has the potential to rank among the largest international financial frauds.
Regulators accused the company, which sells Internet telephone services, of luring investors from immigrant communities who sometimes put in their life savings. Some distraught victims have threatened suicide.
Federal agents acting on a search warrant combed the TelexFree office on Tuesday, the Department of Justice said. Authorities in other countries have reportedly been conducting fraud and money laundering investigations involving TelexFree.
The action this week by US authorities was triggered by TelexFree’s decision to file for federal bankruptcy protection in Nevada on Monday. Securities regulators in Massachusetts filed a civil lawsuit against the company the next day, accusing TelexFree of a $90 million fraud in the Commonwealth and $1 billion around the world. Secretary of State William F. Galvin said the company mainly targeted Brazilian immigrant communities in Massachusetts.
Galvin’s office alleged that TelexFree attracted tens of thousands of investors by offering annual returns of up to 250 percent in return for putting money into the company and agreeing to place online ads to promote its Internet telephone service.
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