A cash stash of $20 million hidden in a box spring was seized from a Massachusetts home when it was found in connection with a massive pyramid scheme in the form of an Internet telecom company that may have affected millions.
Investigators uncovered the stash Wednesday after following a Brazilian man from New York to an apartment in Westborough, according to a report by CBS News.
The investigation was looking into TelexFree, a company based out of Marlborough, Massachusetts. The company allegedly sold VOIP telephone service. Though TelexFree did have a small customer base, prosecutors say that the company made the majority of its profits through people buying into it with a promise of payouts for posting online ads for it.
The company first aimed towards Brazilian immigrants living in Massachusetts, but it’s estimated that TelexFree scammed almost a million people out of $1.8 billion.
In 2014, the company filed for bankruptcy. The company’s assets were frozen, and its two principals were indicted on federal charges of wire fraud and conspiracy.
James Merrill, one of the two principles, pleaded guilty in October. He awaits sentencing February 2.
The other, Carlos Wanzeler, fled to his home country of Brazil.
Cleber Rene Rizerio Rocha, the Brazilian man that was tailed by investigators to the Massachusetts apartment, was involved in a scheme that was supposed to transfer millions of dollars in hidden TelexFree assets to Brazil. The scheme was to launder the cash through Hong Kong.
Rocha, 28, flew into New York from Brazil to oversee the transfer of the cash. He met with a cooperating witness at a restaurant in Hudson, Massachusetts. Rocha handed over a suitcase containing $2.2 million.
After Rocha left the meeting, authorities followed him to the apartment in Westborough, arresting him later on.
Rocha was charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.
[Feature Photo: US Attorney’s Office]