TelexFree Figure Sann Rodrigues Reportedly Detained Again; MLM Huckster Is World Traveler, Documents Say

From a TelexFree promo in 2014.

Sann Rodrigues is on the right in this TelexFree promo from 2014. Indicted TelexFree figures James Merrill and Carlos Wanzeler are on the left.

UPDATED 12:55 P.M. EDT JUNE 24 U.S.A. Once alleged by a class-action plaintiff to be part of an international racketeering enterprise, TelexFree and IFreeX figure Sann Rodrigues, on May 3, 2015, allegedly told U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Boston’s Logan International Airport that he was about to travel to Israel.

Rodrigues, charged civilly by the SEC with securities fraud 13 months earlier in a case that alleged TelexFree had targeted affinity populations, “stated that he was embarking on a trip to the holy land with a church group for a week visit,” according to a May 7, 2015, affidavit by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). HSI is an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The asserted church group was not identified in the affidavit. Also unclear is whether Rodrigues conducted business in Israel while there. What is clear is that Rodrigues had been conducting business in the United States for years. On at least one occasion, he allegedly failed to disclose to U.S. immigration officials that the SEC had brought a fraud action against him.

“Aliens” is a term under U.S. immigration law to describe foreign nationals. Rodrigues is a citizen of Brazil. Under U.S. law, aliens who’ve engaged in acts of terrorism, narcotics trafficking or seek to engage in “commercial vice” are ineligible to enter or reside in the United States, according to the affidavit.

Commercial vice typically covers crimes such as prostitution, but immigration law also addresses a “serious criminal offense” such as “any felony.” If Rodrigues is charged criminally with any Ponzi-related or other felony, it almost certainly will further cloud his immigration status. Since Rodrigues was arrested last month in the United States on a charge of visa fraud, that status already is under the U.S. microscope.

Among the allegations against Rodrigues, whose full name is Sanderley Rodrigues De Vasconcelos,  was that he had obtained his U.S. green card fraudulently, the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said on May 26. Green cards provide for lawful, permanent U.S. residency.

Prior to receiving his green card in 2011, Rodrigues, in 2009, lied to the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janiero to obtain a “B2” tourist visa with the stated purpose of visiting Las Vegas for eight days, according to the affidavit.

Upon his May 16 return to the United States from Israel, Rodrigues was arrested at a New Jersey airport (Newark International). He initially was jailed, but later was released on tight conditions.

But Rodrigues now has been detained again, reported today. The issue? Rodrigues, now an alleged visa fraudster in addition to being an alleged cross-border securities fraudster, reportedly has not met his bail conditions.

From BehindMLM (italics added):

[An] 8th of June hearing saw Rodrigues ordered to remain in the custody of the [U.S. Marshals Service], ‘until an SEC accounting or alternate funds are made available for bail‘.

Put another way, Rodrigues may not have enough clean money to comply with bail conditions.

U.S. federal court filings link Rodrigues to the alleged $1.8 billion TelexFree cross-border pyramid- and Ponzi scheme broken up by HSI and the SEC last year and to a 2006 pyramid scheme known as Universo Fone Club. Massachusetts investigators, meanwhile, have linked him to the IFreeX scheme.

Court records suggest Rodrigues has been in the United States at least on and off since at least 2003. And, according to the records, Rodrigues claimed in the 2009 B2 U.S. visa application for the trip to Las Vegas that he previously had traveled to Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The TelexFree huckster allegedly failed to disclose that he’d also traveled to the United States, had lived in the United States for years and was deposed in the United States by the SEC in the 2006 Universo Fone Club case.

In fact, according to court filings, Rodrigues claimed in 2009 never to have been in the United States — this allegedly despite the SEC deposition and his own claim that he had lived in the United States between 2003 and 2006.

Cross-Border Scamming MLM-Style

Precisely how long Rodrigues has been involved in MLM/network marketing is unclear. The SEC says it’s been since at least 2006, potentially meaning the huckster who reaches across borders via the Internet and allegedly claims to be a world traveler has been scamming recruits for at least nine years.

While pitching prospects, Rodrigues publicly claimed he hauled at least $3 million out of TelexFree. The SEC said that the Universo Fone Club enterprise gathered more than $3 million. (See June 2007 story in Forbes.)

TelexFree, in 2014, advertised Rodrigues as its “TOP PROMOTER IN THE WORLD” and as a headliner at its purported international convention in Spain on March 1 and 2. He later was charged civilly by the SEC with securities fraud.

Rodrigues was among TelexFree’s purported honorees at the Madrid confab. Whether he had a large TelexFree organization in Spain remains an open question. It has been reported that 50,000 Spaniards had become involved in the “program.”

Affinity fraud in the form of schemes targeted at people who have something in common — from common nationality and common religion to common financial problems and common political beliefs — is a growing menace.  The Internet in large part drives the schemes across national borders. But cross-border travel also plays a role. Pitchfests are performed in grand hotels and in budget properties. Ships at sea also have been used.

If the visa and securities charges against Rodrigues are proven, it will mean that you can add immigration fraud to the mix of ways modern network marketers are duping the public.

NOTE: Our thanks to the ASD Updates Blog.





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2 Responses to “TelexFree Figure Sann Rodrigues Reportedly Detained Again; MLM Huckster Is World Traveler, Documents Say”

  1. Carlos Wanzeler reportedly sends email to Boston Globe. His lawyer lawyer tells paper that Brazil seized his passport last year.

    And Wanzeler wants the troops to watch a video by Carlos Costa:


  2. Patrick