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Wings Network charged with running pyramid scheme

The civil fraud charge comes days after Wings Network had voluntarily offered to suspend US operations.Beth Healy/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Secretary of State William F. Galvin on Thursday charged Wings Network and three Central Massachusetts individuals with fraud in a multi-level marketing scheme that targets Spanish and Portuguese-speaking communities.

The civil fraud charge comes a day after the company voluntarily suspended US operations, and as Galvin and federal authorities pursue a different company, TelexFree Inc. of Marlborough, for allegedly running a similar type of operation, only much larger.

Wings, which is based in Portugal, purportedly sells Internet cloud storage plans, but has been selling securities without a license, according to Galvin’s administrative complaint. Within five months, Wings Network collected more than $12.5 million from 8,914 Massachusetts investors, the complaint says. The alleged pyramid scheme emerged in Massachusetts late last year, the state said.

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A lawyer for Wings Network was not immediately available for comment.

The complaint centers on a pair of promoters in the Boston area. It also names a number of related business entities.

“This case is another example of unscrupulous operators preying on vulnerable immigrant communities with promises of great riches, in this instance a bogus means of downloading electronic content,” Galvin said. “In reality, these operators only sought to rope more participants into their scheme.”


Beth Healy can be reached at beth.healy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.