ISLIP, LONG ISLAND (PIX11) – PIX 11 was on the scene Monday morning as agents from the Department of Homeland Security raided multiple 7 Eleven stores in Suffolk County, Long Island, ready to charge managers with harboring illegal immigrants.
The United States Attorney in Brooklyn revealed 7-Eleven franchise owners and managers stole identities from children–and even dead people–using it for illegal immigrants, who allegedly had their wages stolen by the store supervisors.
The victims of the identity theft came from seven states, ranging in age from 8 to 78 years old. One was a Coast Guard cadet. What’s even more troubling — 3 identity theft victims are dead, officials said.
Eight men and one woman were charged in the criminal scheme, which involved ten stores in Suffolk County and four in the state of Virginia.
Farrakhan and Bushra Baig – a married couple – owned or controlled 12 of the 14 franchise stores after receiving a license from the national 7-Eleven Corporation to use the trademarked, specialized equipment.
As many as 14 illegal aliens were taken into federal custody during the raid Monday morning, officials confirmed.
The operation is part of an ongoing, national investigation into the exploitation of illegal immigrants at 7-Eleven franchise stores. On Monday, federal agents were fanning out across the country with search warrants to inspect thirty stores.
The 7-Elevens targeted Monday were going to be taken as government assets, under forfeiture law.
“The 7-Eleven franchises seized today will be better known for their big fraud than their Big Gulp,” said U.S. Attorney, Loretta Lynch, referring to the super-sized drink the 7-Eleven chain is famous for. The government also planned to seize five houses, where the aliens were being harbored.
Lynch said 25 Americans had their identities stolen in the scheme. It was also revealed that the illegal aliens were mostly of Pakistani or Filipino descent. The U.S. Attorney said they were expected to work 100 hours a week and would only get paid for 25 or 30 hours, $350 to $500. Much of that money went to room and board.
Meantime, the franchise owners are accused of pocketing large amounts of cash in the scam.
“I believe these franchises pulled in over $180 million dollars net, a year,” Lynch said.
Lynch also told reporters the parent company for 7-Eleven has been providing documents to the government and is cooperating. However, the company is being taken to task for not paying closer attention to franchise payroll. In some cases, employees in two different states were working under the same identity.
PIX 11 learned Monday afternoon that 20 other 7-Eleven stores on Long Island have now been asked for their “books” along with five stores in New York City, one in each borough.
If convicted, the 9 key defendants face 20 years in prison on wire fraud conspiracy and alien harboring charges.