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Wife of TelexFree Owner Who Fled Released From Jail

In this Tuesday, April 15, 2014 photo, Homeland Security Investigators raid telecommunications and marketing firm TelexFree in Marlborough, Mass. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin filed a complaint against the company alleging it to be an international multi-level marketing scam that specifically targeted Brazilian-Americans. The company also is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Attorney's office. (AP Photo/MetroWest Daily News, Allan Jung)
In this Tuesday, April 15, 2014 photo, Homeland Security Investigators raid telecommunications and marketing firm TelexFree in Marlborough.Allan Jung/AP Photo/MetroWest Daily News

Two people briefed on the case of a local company’s Ponzi scheme said a federal judge in Worcester on Friday released the wife of the company’s owner, who fled to Brazil, The Boston Globe reports.

[Katia ] Wanzeler, the wife of Carlos Wanzeler, is required to stay in Massachusetts and her passports were taken, according to one of the people briefed on the matter.

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TelexFree Inc., an Internet telecom company that field for bankruptcy last month, is under investigation for allegedly operating a $1 billion Ponzi and pyramid scheme. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors filed fraud charges against the owners of the Marlborough-based company, arresting James M. Merrill, 53, of Ashland and issuing a warrant for co-owner Carlos N. Wanzeler, 45, of Northborough.

Katia Wanzeler was arrested last week at JFK International Airport as she was trying to leave the country. According to the Associated Press, she had a one-way ticket to Brazil, $3,000 in cash, and four suitcases weighing 70 pounds.

In April, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security raided the Massachusetts office of the company as part of their investigation.

Last month, Secretary of State William F. Galvin also filed a complaint against the company accusing them of targeting immigrants and “Brazilian-Americans and other minority groups” in their scheme. The complaint claimed TelexFree, an internet phone service, made most of its revenue from people buying into the company with a promise of huge returns for posting online ads for it.

Authorities believe co-owner Carlos Wanzeler may have fled to Brazil, but as The Boston Globe previously reported, he may remain elusive since he has dual citizenship and Brazil is not compelled to turn over its citizens to the US when they are accused of crimes here.

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