WILMINGTON, Delaware -- A scam has caught the attention of federal investigators, and it involves identity theft, transporting stolen goods and innocent victims all over the country.
Good things come in small packages, or so Matthew Doub thought.
"Everything was a godsend until the day I was supposed to get paid," he said.
Doub is now at risk of having his identity stolen and is worried he'll face legal trouble for his role in a scam he didn't even realize he was a part of.
After being out of work on disability for six months, Doub applied for a seemingly legitimate work-at-home job and did his research. It had a well-organized website, HR department and even an online portal to complete his work. He provided all his information to get started.
"It was normal typical stuff you would have to do with HR," he said. "You had to sign a W-4 that you had to put your Social Security number, a direct deposit form, bank information routing number bank account."
The plan was easy. Receive a package at his house in Bear, Delaware, upload a picture of what's inside to his employer and print a shipping label, then send it out to its next destination.
"At first it was small stuff," he said. "I had a few makeup kits and then the iPhone 7, and iPhone 8s came in. It came in the actual companies box Verizon, Macy's, Banana Republic stamp right on the box."
Doub was promised a monthly salary of more than $2,500.
"I thought somebody was finally shining down on me, to be able to provide for my family," he said.
After shipping about 25 packages in the month of March locally in Delaware and to New York City, he was eager for a check that never came.
All three of his managers disconnected their phones, and he was booted from the employer's web page.
"And they just move on," U.S. Postal Inspector Alex Sylvester said. "These people are good. They don't have regular jobs like we do. This is what they do. They fraud people."
Sylvester says there have been hundreds, if not thousands of victims like Doub. The scam has layers, often the merchandise inside the package, shipped to victims like Doub, was bought with stolen credit cards.
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Sylvester said.
The packages are typically shipped by unwitting victims to addresses near airports, then flown overseas.
Federal law enforcement officers tasked with catching these criminals are tracking down credit card numbers, IP addresses, and following those packages to the operators involved.
They're now working with Doub, who never did get any answers or money from his fake employer.
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Delaware man's identity stolen during work-from-home job scam