Telexfree Principal Becomes Fugitive By: Brenda Hamilton Attorney, Boca Raton Florida

Securities Lawyer 101 - Carolyn Winson

Securities Lawyer 101 Blog

On Friday, May 9, 2014, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts charged James M. Merrill and Carlos N. Wanzeler with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the alleged TelexFree pyramid scheme previously charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Federal authorities arrested Merrill on Friday, and an arrest warrant was issued for Wanzeler, who the Department of Justice announced is now a fugitive.

The Department of Justice also announced it has executed 37 seizure warrants seizing assets relating to the fraudulent pyramid scheme.

The criminal charges against Merrill and Wanzeler related to the same conduct charged in a civil enforcement action filed by the SEC on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, against Merrill, Wanzeler, and others.  Those charges were filed under seal, in connection with the Commission’s request for an immediate asset freeze.  That asset freeze, which the U.S. District Court in Boston ordered on Wednesday, April 16, secured millions of dollars of funds and prevented the potential dissipation of investor assets.  After the SEC staff implemented the asset freeze, at the SEC’s request the Court lifted the seal on April 17.  On April 30, 2014, the Court entered preliminary injunctions extending the asset freeze as to defendants Santiago De La Rosa, of Lynn, Massachusetts, and Randy N. Crosby, of Alpharetta, Georgia.  On May 8 and 9, the Court entered preliminary injunctions extending the asset freeze as to all the remaining defendants (Merrill, Wanzeler, TelexFree, Inc., TelexFree, LLC, Joseph H. Craft, of Boonville, Indiana, Steve Labriola, of Northbridge, Massachusetts, Faith R. Sloan, of Chicago, Illinois, and relief defendants (TelexFree Financial, Inc., TelexElectric, LLLP, and Telex Mobile Holdings, Inc.).

The SEC alleges that TelexFree, Inc. and TelexFree, LLC claim to run a multilevel marketing company that sells telephone service based on “voice over Internet” (VoIP) technology but actually are operating an elaborate pyramid scheme.  In addition to charging the company, the SEC charged several TelexFree officers and promoters, and named several entities related to TelexFree as relief defendants based on their receipt of investor funds.  According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Massachusetts, the defendants sold securities in the form of TelexFree “memberships” that promised annual returns of 200 percent or more for those who promoted TelexFree by recruiting new members and placing TelexFree advertisements on free Internet ad sites.  The SEC complaint alleges that TelexFree’s VoIP sales revenues of approximately $1.3 million from August 2012 through March 2014 are barely one percent of the more than $1.1 billion needed to cover its promised payments to its promoters.  As a result, in classic pyramid scheme fashion, TelexFree was paying earlier investors, not with revenue from selling its VoIP product but with money received from newer investors.

In related proceedings, on May 6, 2014, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Nevada granted the SEC’s motion to transfer venue of those proceedings from Nevada to Massachusetts.  The SEC had contended that the TelexFree entities hastily filed for bankruptcy in Nevada on Sunday night, April 13, 2014, in a transparent attempt to avoid Massachusetts.  The SEC had noted that TelexFree does virtually no business in Nevada but rather was headquartered in Marlborough, Massachusetts.  The SEC also argued that TelexFree did not have a legitimate business capable of reorganization under the bankruptcy code.  The bankruptcy case will be transferred to Massachusetts for all further proceedings.

For further information about this securities law blog, please contact Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney at 101 Plaza Real S, Suite 202 N, Boca Raton, Florida, (561) 416-8956, by email at [email protected] or visit  This securities law blog post is provided as a general informational service to clients and friends of Hamilton & Associates Law Group and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal and compliance advice on any specific matter, nor does this message create an attorney-client relationship.  For more information about going public and the rules and regulations affecting the use of Rule 144, Form 8K, crowdfunding, FINRA Rule 6490Rule 506 private placement offerings and memorandums, Regulation A, Rule 504 offerings, SEC reporting requirements, SEC registration statements on Form S-1 IPO’s, OTC Pink Sheet listings, Form 10 OTCBB and OTC Markets disclosure requirements, DTC Chills, Global Locks, reverse mergers, public shells, direct public offerings and direct public offerings please contact Hamilton and Associates at (561) 416-8956 or [email protected].  Please note that the prior results discussed herein do not guarantee similar outcomes.

Hamilton & Associates | Securities Lawyers
Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney
101 Plaza Real South, Suite 202 North
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
Telephone: (561) 416-8956
Facsimile: (561) 416-2855