Fourteen 7-Eleven stores were raided by agents from Homeland Security this morning, according to the New York Times, after an investigation from Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed that undocumented immigrants working there were using Social Security numbers of dead people and children.
Nine owners and managers were arrested and five are being charged so far with harboring and hiring illegal immigrants and paying them using illegal Social Security numbers. The 14 stores in question were located in Long Island (New York) and Virginia.
Most of the workers engaged in the scam were of Pakistani descent, and the managers who were in charge of this operation, eight men and a woman, used the Social Security numbers of children and the deceased, reported the New York Times.
Officials say this immigration scam has been happening for over a decade. Some 40 other stores are under investigation, several of them located in New York City, reports NBC New York.
So far, five of the store owners face charges of identity theft, money laundering, wire fraud, and paying below the minimum wage. Suffolk County police, federal Homeland Security investigators, IRS and NYPD officers were seen entering several of the store locations across Long Island on Monday. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch along with representatives from several other law enforcement agencies, were expected to announce details of the investigation at a news conference in Brooklyn on Monday afternoon, according to NBC New York.
7-Eleven’s official line is that the company is co-operating fully with the investigation and had no prior knowledge of the crime.