Pyramid schemes are fairly well understood in the modern world, but they still exist and they still cause many people to lose everything they have. One such pyramid scheme was recently thwarted back in 2014.

The business was called TelexFree, and they were responsible for money laundering and fraud on the order of millions of dollars. One arrest has already been made, and several more are expected if extradition from Brazil is possible.

Another person of interest in the case, a man named James Merrill, is awaiting sentencing after having been convicted. Cleber Rocha, the 28 year old who was recently arrested, was the first in a series of individuals who were helping the scheme unfold.

Rocha was staying in an apartment in Westborough, Massachusetts, and his arrest led to an unusual find by local law enforcement.

The apartment held a mattress that seemed quite normal at first, but closer inspection showed that something was truly unique about this particular mattress. Federal investigators are confident in their ability to connect the case to Carlos Wanzeler, the Brazilian who returned to Brazil after the investigation started.

It is believed the discovery in the Westborough apartment was directly due to Wanzeler’s influence. The mattress felt lumpy and dense, and when police cut into the material, they discovered roughly $20 million in cash.

The cash was distributed throughout the mattress and the box spring, and evidence shows that the cash was connected to Wanzeler through Rocha and TelexFree. Most likely, the cash came from the pyramid scheme.

Federal prosecutors in Boston said on Friday, a Massachusetts man has agreed to plead guilty to running a pyramid scheme that defrauded victims, including many Brazilian-Americans, of more than $1 billion. 

James Merrill had served as president of TelexFree, a company that purported to provide online telephone services. Prosecutors, however, contend the company actually operated as a pyramid scheme. 

Court records show Merrill has agreed to plead guilty to charges in a hearing on Monday, Oct. 24. 

He had been set to stand trial next month on charges including conspiracy and wire fraud for orchestrating the scheme. 

It invited victims to pay up to $1,375 for kits they would use to post online advertisements promoting the company's phone service.