Magazine

Game Changers

The bankruptcy trustee with nearly 2 million clients

Stephen Darr’s daunting task is to work with alleged victims of the nearly $3 billion TelexFree Ponzi scheme.

Boston 12-05-2014 Stephen Darr (cq) is the court appointed trustee in the TelexFree bankruptcy case . He is photographed in his office.Globe Staff/Photographer Jonathan Wiggs Topic: Reporter
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff/file
Stephen Darr.

Nearly 2 million people from some 240 countries and territories piled money into TelexFree Inc., a Ponzi scheme that affected more people than any other. The individual amounts were often small, but together they added up to $3 billion.

Now, imagine creating an online system that could handle incoming claims from all those alleged victims. Oh, and it needs to be in three languages — English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Boston bankruptcy trustee Stephen Darr is in charge of that daunting task. He’s tapped a California software firm to build a system that can log each filer’s contact information, send verifying e-mails, and allow people to dispute transactions that allegedly occurred in their accounts. Although an April launch proved too ambitious, Darr is hopeful the system will be up and running this month.

So far, US authorities have seized more than $100 million related to TelexFree, but Darr is working to shake loose more funds for victims. He has sued 15,000 people in this country and 78,000 overseas. The most important of those defendants are 190 “bigger winners,” promoters of the former Marlborough-based company who reaped inflated gains that were really other people’s money, Darr says.

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The two US heads of TelexFree, one of whom has fled to Brazil, face criminal charges in Massachusetts. A third executive is also in Brazil, where a judge recently ruled that the three owe tens of millions in taxes. But Darr doesn’t expect that ruling to water down the victims’ payouts. “That’s just a technicality,’’ he says. “I don’t think there’s a whole lot of money from these guys to pay Brazil.”

Beth Healy is a Globe staff writer. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.