Workers for a company recently discovered to have hired more than 100 children to clean slaughterhouses repeatedly used stolen identities for assignment, according to former company managers, local police officials and individuals who told NBC News their identities were stolen.
A Texas woman reported that her identity was used twice by workers at Packers Sanitation Services Inc. , which is the second time after years of actually complaining to the company.
A former plant manager who did not wish to be identified told NBC News that PSSI repeatedly hired people with obviously fake IDs. “Nobody else wants to do that [the work],” He said.
PSSI employs 17,000 workers nationwide and sterilizes more than 400 slaughterhouses and other facilities during night shifts. The working conditions are hazardous and it is against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to work there. The company reached an agreement with the Department of Labor after investigators uncovered children as young as 13 working hazardous jobs at 13 locations in eight states. In February, the company paid a $1.5 million fine and agreed to three years of increased oversight.
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Company spokeswoman Gina Swenson told NBC News that the company has strict controls on who gets hired. “We have emphasized, time and again, that the only way our extensive procedures can be circumvented is through identity theft or intentional fraud against our company – as has happened here,” she said.
Swenson said the company’s hiring process for compliance has detected more than 8,000 instances of identity verification issues since 2020, which she said clearly demonstrates a commitment to rooting out breaches rather than tolerating them. Identity frauds that private employers are required to combat. This is in direct contrast to the false allegations made by these anonymous former local employees who unjustifiably seek to discredit us.”
Felipe Garcia’s identity was stolen and used by a PSSI worker in Kansas.
The 30-year-old father of five works for an agricultural technology company in Holland, Michigan, where he was born and has lived his whole life. He said he’s been dealing with the insane ramifications of identity theft for the past five years with workers employed by PSSI and eight to 10 other companies, mostly in Nebraska.
But he said the most recent example worried him the most.
A few months ago, Garcia was notified of a new W2 tax form showing his ID being used by a PSSI worker at a slaughterhouse in Liberal, Kansas. Shortly thereafter, he said he read the NBC News story showing the company hired children using fake IDs and contacted NBC News.
“The fact that a child could use something different I didn’t think would have happened,” he said.
He said that after years of dealing with the hassles of identity theft, he had become a regular headache. “But I have children and if something happens with my ID – I worked in sanitation when I was 18 and saw people get so hurt they couldn’t work anymore.”
“So I don’t want a child to go through this at a young age and it affects them in the long run,” he said.
Tax forms Garcia shared with NBC News from the past five years show that workers at several other Nebraska workplaces used Garcia’s ID. There is no evidence that any of the workers who used his ID, including the PSSI employee, were minors.
His example illustrates the troubles of identity theft for its victims.
The theft led to hours of personal detective work by the father of five as he hunted down company employees and local law enforcement to stop the impersonation. “I do most of the investigation myself and then I turn it over to the police department,” he told NBC News.
The hardest time, he said, is around tax season, when the IRS calls him asking questions about how he’s been able to hold down multiple jobs in multiple states.
Garcia said he’s frustrated by skeptical law enforcement officers who don’t believe him. In 2024, Garcia was so upset with an officer in a small town in Nebraska that he and his wife drove 12 hours to Nebraska to prove in person that he was, in fact, the “real Felipe Garcia”.
PSSI told NBC News in a statement in response to Garcia’s case, “We sympathize with these individuals who have experienced criminal identity theft. We have extensive procedures in place to assist people who report experiencing identity fraud and prevent someone from being rehired using the same false identity in the future.”
PSSI spokeswoman Gina Swenson said the company has made it clear in its system that no one using Felipe Garcia’s identity will be rehired in the future.
Garcia wasn’t the only person who reached out to NBC about their PSSI agent identity.
A 34-year-old Texas woman who did not wish to be named called NBC News to say her identity had also been stolen and used by PSSI employees at least twice.
She said she first learned of the theft in 2014, when she obtained a W2 for a PSSI worker at a Dodge City, Kansas, slaughterhouse. She said she was surprised to see on Google Maps that the home address the person used was not even a real address but an intersection.
She said she quickly contacted PSSI’s human resources department to file a complaint and asked to know what kind of documentation and photo the worker used. “I just remember insisting how badly I wanted to see the documents,” she said.
She said the company told her the person had already been terminated but would not share the documents she agreed to. She said PSSI had reassured her that they would classify the name as “do not rehire” so that the false identity would not be used again.
“I just assumed it was fixed,” she said.
But then it happened again. In November 2019, she received a W2 from another PSSI worker, employed again in Dodge City and using the same address, which left her “very upset.”
The second copycat also used the woman’s identity to obtain health care, which she said led to collection notices for outstanding bills and which she referred to in emails to PSSI she shared with NBC News.
Swenson, a PSSI spokesperson, told NBC News that the company is attributing the mix-up to a “clerical error.”
“This stolen identity should have been marked as ineligible for future employment under our policies — as it was in 2019,” Swenson said. “We sincerely apologize… for this issue.”
Two former managers who did not want to be identified told NBC News that while the company runs identities through the federal government’s E-Verify system to ensure a name matches a real Social Security number, the company has repeatedly approved fake-looking documents.
The former senior manager said that the use of fake IDs by undocumented workers in the slaughterhouse industry is common, but that PSSI “did not look for fake IDs”, although sometimes the forgery was easy to spot.
He said he was aware of cases where the company would go ahead and hire an employee as long as their Social Security number and name pass the government’s electronic verification system, though there were discrepancies. He said the company sometimes rejected applicants for providing fake IDs.
Another former manager who recently left the company and worked at PSSI in the Midwest for more than 10 years said that when he started, he used fake documents himself. He told NBC News that the quality of fake IDs can often be detected by how they feel in your hand. “Its color, and the texture it feels,” he said.
When asked about how workers obtained fake documents, this manager provided NBC News with the name and cell phone number of someone he said regularly provided fake IDs to PSSI workers.
NBC News sent a text message to the cellphone number but the person did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
“It’s kind of like drug dealing,” said the former manager. “There is always a drug dealer – there is always someone with documents.”
The former manager said workers told him an ID with a name and Social Security number would cost between $100 and $300, but actual documents required for employment, such as a Social Security card, would cost $1,000 to $1,500.
Gary Selman, a detective with the Ford County Sheriff’s Office in Dodge City, told NBC News that 70% of local identity theft reports his department receives relate to the meatpacking industry.
Salman said there is a wide range of quality in fake identities. “Some of them are very elaborate. Some of them are actually state IDs. And then it looks like some of them were an attempt from high school to get into the bar,” he said, adding that the department is currently investigating an identity theft case involving a PSSI worker.
Local police reports from Grand Island, Nebraska, and Worthington, Minnesota, where PSSI had contracts to clean up major slaughterhouses show numerous cases of identity theft.
NBC News obtained police reports about fake identities being used to obtain work at meatpacking plants in Kansas and linked to victims in states including Texas, Illinois, California, Kansas, Arizona and Colorado.
Dodge City Police Deputy Chief Jarad Gortzen confirmed that identity fraud cases have been a problem in the area “for years” and said they are “some of the hardest cases to work with” since the responsibility often falls on the victim to prove to an individual using their information that they are not who they are.
As NBC News previously reported, the Department of Homeland Security is investigating immigrant children found cleaning slaughterhouses and is now working with the Justice Department to examine whether a human trafficking scheme brought immigrant children to work in multiple slaughterhouses for multiple companies across multiple states, according to the report. to two US officials familiar with the investigation. There is no indication that DHS is investigating PSSI or slaughterhouse companies for trafficking.
The officials said the core of the investigation is to determine how minors in Central America ended up working in dangerous jobs that are only permitted to US adults by providing identity cards stolen from US citizens.