October 31, 2014 – In April 2014, Massachusetts Secretary of State, William Galvin, filed a complaint against Carlos Wanzeler and James Merrill, alleging that their company, TelexFree, Inc., was operated as a Ponzi scheme. The company operated out of Marlborough and raised almost $1 billion worldwide, which includes over $90 million from Massachusetts residents.
This purported investment fraud primarily targeted Brazilian Americans by selling Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) programs, which provided discount long-distance phone call services. Participants made investments of either $289 or $1,375, which bought them advertisement kits for TelexFree’s VoIP programs. Investors could earn a 200-250% return by placing daily ads online. Members were also paid $100 for recruiting another investor, and up to a 3% commission on their recruits’ sales. This compensation model is similar to a traditional pyramid scheme.