No 7-Eleven

Resisting Chain Stores and Corporate Control

Dallas-Based 7-Eleven Seizes Two More Stores in Virginia

7-Eleven Raid - Long IslandDallas News: Dallas-based 7-Eleven seizes two more stores in Virginia from franchisees in ongoing illegal immigrant investigation

Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. has taken over two more stores in Virginia as a result of pending felony charges against its franchisees brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.
Last week, federal authorities indicted owners of 7-Eleven stores in Virginia and in New York on Long Island arresting nine owners and managers charging them with harboring and hiring illegal immigrants.

Federal prosecutors called the scheme “a modern-day plantation system” forcing illegal immigrants to live in substandard conditions and giving them false Social Security numbers. Wages were minimal and stolen by managers.

On June 17, 7-Eleven seized control of 14 stores, ten on Long Island and four in Virginia. The company took over two more stores in Virginia on June 18, said 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris on Thursday.

“These stores are now open under the management of 7-Eleven Inc. 7-Eleven will continue to take action against franchisees who violate the law or its franchise agreement,” Chabris said in an emailed statement.

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What Did 7-Eleven Know?

7-Eleven Human Trafficking ProbeCSPNet: What Did 7-Eleven Know?

Questions focus on corporate’s central payroll system

DALLAS — A federal probe into human trafficking at 7-Eleven franchise locations is generating more questions and a broader investigation, according to sources familiar with both the company and the charges recently filed.

A federal sweep earlier this month into one of the country’s largest cases of human trafficking netted a slew of indictments against 7-Eleven franchisees in Long Island, N.Y., and Virginia, including conspiring to harbor illegal immigrants employed at the stores, conspiracies to commit wire fraud and stealing identities.

7-Eleven corporate has not been charged with any wrongdoings and most recently issued a directive to its estimated 5,700 franchises to conduct self-reviews by end of June or face up to $1,100 in fines per violation. Additionally, 7-Eleven executive vice president and chief operating officer Darren Rebelez said the company will be conducting its own audits of franchises.

The company’s actions come as sources tell CSP Daily News that the federal probe is expanding into other states and could involve the brand’s entire retail network.

At play is 7-Eleven’s backoffice system and who knew what when, according to several 7-Eleven franchisees who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Basically, the ISP runs the store,” one operator said of 7-Eleven’s in-store processing system, which manages ordering, scan data, payroll and more. The system is so sophisticated it knows how many cups of coffee are sold every day at each store, how many candy bars are sold, how many cigarettes are sold.”

“7-Eleven corporate is extremely involved in the day-to-day operations of the store,” the operator continued. “With all that oversight and sophistication, it’s extremely difficult to believe 7-Eleven couldn’t red-flag the payroll abnormalities that is alleged to have happened.”

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7-Eleven Exploitation Scheme Defendants Go to Court

7-Eleven Exploitation Scheme Defendants Go to CourtCSPNet: 7-Eleven Exploitation Scheme Defendants Go to Court

Report looks at how franchisees’ “plantation system” worked

NORFOLK, Va. — The 7-Eleven independent franchisee worker exploitation case has moved to court, and more details are also beginning to emerge about the nature of the scheme that the federal investigation has uncovered. A federal judge in Norfolk, Va., overseeing the case is proceeding with added caution before allowing the defendants to return to their U.S. homes until a trial date out concern they may be flight risks to avoid prosecution.

As reported in a Raymond James/CSP Daily News Flash, Judge Lawrence R. Leonard on Thursday ruled that defendant Tariq Rana would remain in federal custody until trial, said an Associated Press report.

Attorneys said that one person from New York involved in the multi-state scheme has already fled back to Pakistan.

For his decision, the judge cited the nature and severity of offenses, size and scope of charges, unaccounted for money and the fact that Rana is facing a 48-year maximum sentence plus deportation, reported WAVY-TV.

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7-Eleven must step up to prevent worker abuses by franchisees

Dallas News: 7-Eleven must step up to prevent worker abuses by franchisees

If 7-Eleven Inc. can monitor Slurpees at its stores, why not labor practices?

Last week, federal authorities seized 10 of the chain’s stores in Long Island, N.Y., and four in Virginia, and said the franchise owners were running “a modern-day plantation system.” They allegedly hired dozens of immigrants in the country illegally, assigned stolen identities, kept much of their wages and required them to live in boarding houses. This went on for 13 years.

Nine people were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and harboring illegal immigrants, according to federal indictments.

It was another example of a broken immigration system, and a reminder that workers continue to be exploited while lawmakers debate change in Washington. The case also showed how big businesses can be drawn into immigration controversies, even if they’re not legally on the hook. And it raised the question of why the parent company wasn’t more vigilant.

7-Eleven’s corporate parent wasn’t charged, and a spokeswoman at its Dallas headquarters declined to discuss the case. In a statement, the company said it was cooperating with the investigation and would take steps to audit the employment status of all workers.

The company also said that franchise owners must follow the law and 7-Eleven’s franchise agreement, which assigns all labor issues to the franchisees.

In other words, it blamed the bad actors who exploited the workers. As the U.S. attorney said, they used 7-Eleven as a platform for an elaborate criminal enterprise.

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7-Eleven takes over 2 additional stores in Hampton Roads

7-Eleven Human Trafficking13News: 7-Eleven takes over 2 additional stores in Hampton Roads

NEW YORK– 7-Eleven’s parent company has taken over operation of 2 additional stores in Hampton Roads following a two-state investigation into human smuggling, identity theft and money laundering.

The stores are located at 1584 General Booth Blvd. in Virginia Beach and 2610 Jefferson Avenue in Newport News. The move brings to six the number of Virginia stores taken over by corporate.

7-Eleven spokeswoman Cara Morris Stern said the stores are now open under the management of 7-Eleven, Inc.

The other locations are at 725 London Blvd., Portsmouth and owned by Wajiha Razzak; 4701 Taylor Road in Chesapeake owned by Raj Masand; 1088 W. 26th Street in Norfolk owned by Shagufta Baig and 1510 Brambletown Ave. in Norfolk, owned by Raj Masand, sources close to the investigation revealed.

Three people – 52-year-old Zahid Baig of Chesapeake, 62-year-old Shannawaz Baig of Va. Beach and 34-year-old Tariq Rana of Chesapeake – were due in Norfolk Federal Court Monday afternoon on charges of wire fraud conspiracy, identity theft and alien harboring charges. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy.

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Evidence in Long Island Houses of 7-Eleven ‘Plantation’

7-Eleven - Human TraffickingNew York Times: Evidence in Long Island Houses of 7-Eleven ‘Plantation’

They were known as the “7-Eleven Houses,” the two shabby homes in Islip Terrace on Long Island, and not simply because of their proximity to the 7-Eleven on Carleton Avenue — one across the street and one tucked behind it. It was because, morning and night, the men, more than half a dozen just from one house, some neighbors said, would file from the peeling doorways to work at the convenience store in shifts so long that it sometimes seemed as if they lived not in the tattered houses, but at the shop.

But on Monday, after federal authorities indicted the owners of the 7-Eleven and seized the store, it was revealed that the houses were what prosecutors in New York State referred to as part of “a modern-day plantation system,” packed with illegal immigrants living in substandard conditions, working under false Social Security numbers, and being paid pennies on the dollar for hundreds of hours of labor.

“The guys worked tons of hours — they were always there,” said Nicole Koerner, 30, who lives across the street from one of the homes. She said she typically visited the store three times a day, often seeing the same employee during multiple visits in a 24-hour period. “I would say, ‘Take a vacation,’ ” she said. The response, invariably, was laughter.

The investigation — one of the largest inquiries into criminal employment of immigrants ever conducted by the Homeland Security and Justice Departments, officials said — has led to the seizure of 14 stores in Virginia and on Long Island, and it is also focusing on 40 other 7-Eleven franchises in New York City and elsewhere. In Islip Terrace, two brothers — Azhar Zia, a United States and Pakistani citizen, and Ummar Uppal, who officials said was an illegal Pakistani immigrant, were indicted.

The defendants, franchisees for the parent company, used identities stolen from American citizens, including dead people and at least one child, to recruit and employ over 50 illegal immigrants in the shops, according to prosecutors. But they are also accused of paying those employees only $300 to $500 for 100-hour workweeks, officials said, and forcing them to live in the houses. Investigators seized five homes, including the two in Islip Terrace.

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McDonald’s and 7-Eleven Franchise Owners Push the Exploitation Envelope

Photo by Giorgio MartiniDaily Kos: McDonald’s and 7-Eleven Franchise Owners Push the Exploitation Envelope

Big corporations like McDonald’s and 7-Eleven exert a lot of control over their franchise owners when it comes to things like branding and the products they sell. When it comes to labor standards, though, it’s almost like corporate management doesn’t care at all, as two recent cases remind us. Fourteen 7-Eleven stores were seized and nine franchise owners and managers were arrested and charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, identity theft, and harboring illegal immigrants. According to U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch:

… the 7-Eleven defendants allegedly forced the immigrants to work 100 hours a week and pocketed the majority of their pay, while also forcing them to live in and pay rent in boarding houses that the defendants owned. This “plantation system” allegedly went on for more than 13 years, she said.

The workers were assigned stolen identities by the defendants, but it sure sounds like the abuses directed at these workers merit some charges—you know, theft, forced labor, that kind of stuff? These 14 stores are looking like the tip of the iceberg, with 40 more being inspected, yet apparently in 13 years, 7-Eleven corporate management didn’t figure out something was wrong.

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