The case reflects stepped up enforcement against employers using bogus documentation for immigrant workers. In the past two years, federal authorities have brought similar charges against more than 500 business-owners and managers, said James Hayes, head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s New York office.
A 7-Eleven store in Maryland, where a winning lottery ticket was sold in June 2013.
Nine owners and managers of 7-Eleven stores across Long Island and in Virginia were charged on Monday in a scheme to exploit immigrants from Pakistan and the Philippines, in part by paying them using the stolen Social Security numbers of a child and three dead people.
Most of the defendants were arrested early Monday as federal authorities raided 14 franchise stores. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were executing search warrants at about 30 other stores across the country suspected of similar infractions, authorities said at a news conference in Brooklyn.
Federal indictments naming eight men and one woman allege that since 2000 they employed more than 50 immigrants who didn’t have permission to be in the U.S. They tried to conceal the immigrants’ employment by stealing the identities of about two dozen people — including those of the child, the dead and a Coast Guard cadet — and submitting the information to the 7-Eleven payroll department.
When 7-Eleven’s headquarters sent the wages for distribution, the employers stole “significant portions” of the workers’ pay, authorities said. The defendants also forced the workers to live in houses they owned and pay them rent in cash, they added.