US Federal authorities raided fourteen 7-Eleven convenience stores in New York and Virginia, arresting nine owners and managers for hiring of illegal immigrants, identity theft and money laundering.
The store owners and managers, who as franchisees for the parent company were licensed to use 7-Eleven buildings and trademarks, recruited more than 50 illegal immigrants and gave them identities stolen from American citizens, including children and dead people. The employees worked for 100 hours a week but were paid for a fraction of that time, and were forced to live in substandard housing owned by the operators of the convenience stores, the authorities said.
The case began two years ago when a 7-Eleven employee approached the New York State Police about not being paid for his work. Another worker later contacted the Suffolk County police. The investigation led to two families and their associates with roots in Pakistan and the Philippines, who recruited from their own ethnic communities.
US authorities are investigating 40 other 7-Eleven franchises in New York City and elsewhere suspected of similar infractions.
A spokesman for 7-Eleven Inc., Scott Matter, said in a statement that the company would “take stern actions to audit the employment status of all its franchisees’ employees” and was cooperating with federal authorities.