He applied to a job online and fell for a “work from home” scam, but this wasn’t your average online racket. Douglas Glover got tricked into trying to send weapons to Russia and thinking federal agents were package thieves—and now he’s serving a federal prison sentence for the mistake.
When Alabama 37-year-old Douglas Glover saw a job ad on Monster.com offering a chance to work from home in 2016, it seemed like a pretty good gig. Someone using the name “Ginger M. Towers” from a company calling itself North Star Freight offered him $25 for every package he managed to send out.
Ginger’s English didn’t seem so great—“You is to serve a probationary period of 28 days”—but the money was. Glover hadn’t been held full time in years when the company reached out to him, and so a steady paycheck that allowed him to work from home was welcome. Unfortunately for Glover, it wasn’t a legitimate logistics job.
Con artists often claim, either in online advertisements or in “work from home!” fliers stapled to telephone poles, that you can make money in the comfort of your own home re-shipping packages to customers.
These re-shipment scams have ballooned over the years because they’re an important cog in the logistics of cybercrime. Crooks steal credit cards and financial data and use it to buy high-end goods but often have trouble convincing retailers to ship the ill-gotten goods to Eastern Europe and other places where fraud scams have made a number of companies wary of deliveries. Scammers have solved their logistics problem by recruiting unsuspecting victims to receive the purchases in the U.S., where deliveries seem less suspicious, and re-send the loot abroad.
In Glover’s case, his job as a re-shipper left him open not just to fraud charges, but arms export violations, too. The Daily Beast reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s office and Glover’s attorneys; both declined to comment.
The trouble for Glover began when postal inspectors intercepted a package containing an iPad bought with a stolen credit card and shipped to his home. Federal investigators told Glover they believed he was an “unknowing participant” being used as a mule for a criminal enterprise. They showed him a voluntary discontinuance statement and asked him to promise that he wouldn’t ship any more packages for the company or else face federal charges. Glover readily signed it.
After his run-in with postal inspectors, Glover emailed his bosses at North Star Freight and wrote: “I hate to inform u but i can not receive packages anymore. So i am quitting this position. Please stop shipment of any other packages.” He also sent along information about four packages in transit to his home and asked investigators to set up a time where he could hand them over once they arrived.
There the trouble might have ended for Glover but for one last trick his employers played on him.
“Ginger” bombarded Glover with emails flagged “urgent” and convinced him that he hadn’t been talking with federal law enforcement after all but rather “fraudsters” who sent “possibly fake email messages” to “steal the packages he had been assigned to ship.” The emails from postal inspectors, she claimed, looked like they had come from a phony domain and the phone calls from them could’ve come from throwaway voice-over IP numbers, she said.
When postal inspectors finally did get back in touch with him after nearly a week of silence, Glover told them of his suspicions and said he’d have to talk with his Russian supervisors.
In the meantime, Glover tried to mail out more packages. Rather than the usual illicit iPad fare, the company had sent him two boxes with something inside altogether riskier to ship out: 50 high-capacity AK-47 magazines marked as “toy parts” to send to addresses in Russia with counterfeit postage.
This time, when federal agents showed up at Glover’s door, he knew they weren’t the “fraudsters” his employers had claimed. He admitted to knowing that the boxes contained gun magazines and accepted a deal with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to one count of attempted unlawful exportation of firearms. He agreed to give up the weapons parts he didn’t ship to Russia to the U.S. government.
He was sentenced to 16 months in prison in April and reported to prison on May 14.