Friday, June 21, 2013

Fourteen 7-Eleven Stores Seized By Feds For Exploiting Illegals, False Documents And Stealing Wages

Feds expanded their investigation by executing search and seizure warrants and inspecting at least 30 other 7-Eleven franchise stores, which has become the largest criminal immigration forfeiture for the Department of Homeland Security's history.

By H. Nelson Goodson
June 21, 2013

Long Island, New York - On Thursday, after Monday's federal immigration raid that seized fourteen 7-Eleven franchise stores for exploiting illegal immigrants, Darren Rebelez, the 7-Eleven's CEO and executive vice president sent out a mass letter to all franchises that field consultants and market managers will be conducting I-9 work status compliance checks on site. Rebelez wrote in a letter to all franchises that, "This letter is to remind you of the required I-9 compliance steps and to outline some of the consequences for failure to comply. These requirements are mandatory for all franchisees. Failure to comply will result in serious consequences, including the possible termination of your franchise agreement." 
For noncompliance, Rebelez wrote that those franchises with incomplete or incorrect I-9 forms could be fined by the feds between $110 to $1,100 per form. 
On Monday,  Loretta E. Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York announced in a news release that eight men and one woman from Long Island, New York, were charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities, and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants employed at 7-Eleven, Inc. (7-Eleven) franchise stores located throughout Long Island and Virginia. The suspects were identified as Farrukh Baig , 57,  a Naturalized United States Citizen from Head of Harbor, New York; Bushra Baig, 49, a Naturalized United States from Head of Harbor, New York; Malik Yoisaf, 51, a Naturalized United States from South Setauket, New York; Zahid Baig, 52, a Naturalized United States from Chesapeake, Virginia; Shannawaz Baig, 62, a Naturalized United States from Virginia Beach, Virginia; Tariq Rana, 34, from Pakistan residing in Chesapeake, Virginia; Ramon Nanas, 49, from the Republic of the Philippines residing in Great River, New York; Azhar Zia, 49, a Naturalized United States from Great River, New York; and Ummar Uppal, 48, from Pakistan residing in Islip Terrace, New York.
Lynch says, that through this scheme, the defendants, who owned, managed and controlled fourteen 7-Eleven franchise stores during the course of the conspiracies, allegedly hired dozens of illegal immigrants, equipped them with more than 20 identities stolen from United States citizens, housed them at residences owned by the defendants, and stole substantial portions of their wages.
The illegal employees were forced to work up to 100 hours and were paid a fraction of their wages earned.
If convicted, the defendants will face 20 years' imprisonment on wire fraud conspiracy and alien harboring charges, as well as multiple counts of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory, consecutive two-year term of incarceration. In addition, all property used to facilitate the harboring of illegal immigrants, together with all proceeds of the wire fraud conspiracy and alien harboring charges, are subject to forfeiture. The defendants were in court for an  arraignment on Monday at the United States Courthouses in Central Islip, New York and Norfolk, Virginia.
The indictments, arrests and seizures are the result of one of the largest criminal immigrant employment investigations ever conducted by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.  As set forth in court filings, the government has moved to forfeit the franchise rights to ten 7-Eleven stores in New York and four 7-Eleven stores in Virginia.  In the indictments, the government has also moved to forfeit five houses in New York worth over $1.3 million.  According to the Department of Homeland Security, the case constitutes the largest criminal immigration forfeiture in its history.  In addition, federal agents fanned out across the country to execute multiple search and seizure warrants and inspect approximately 30 7-Eleven franchise stores.
The actions taken are the initial results of an ongoing investigation into the employment and exploitation of illegal immigrants at 7-Eleven franchise stores nationwide.
According to court filings, from 2000 until the present, the defendants collectively and systematically employed more than 50 illegal immigrants at fourteen 7-Eleven franchise stores in Long Island and Virginia.  Rather than transmitting the true identification information of the illegal immigrant employees to 7-Eleven headquarters for processing, the defendants allegedly used more than 20 stolen identities, submitting stolen names and Social Security numbers of United States citizens to conceal the presence of illegal immigrants on the 7-Eleven franchise store payrolls.  7-Eleven headquarters processed the payroll and sent the employees' wages to the defendants for distribution.  The defendants then allegedly stole significant portions of the illegal immigrants' wages, rather than paying the workers in full.  The defendants also required the illegal immigrant to live in residences owned by the defendants and to pay rent in cash to the defendants. 
As alleged in court documents, the victims of the identity theft hail from seven states, range in age from 8 to 78 years old, and include a child, three dead people and a Coast Guard cadet.  In addition, the defendants, together with others, caused the 7-Eleven payroll service to transmit this false information, including the stolen identity information, to United States regulatory agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration.
During the scheme, the defendants allegedly generated over $182 million in proceeds from the 7-Eleven franchise stores.  Profits from those stores were shared by the defendants and 7-Eleven. 

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