Maryland Man Stole Identities of Mental Health Patients
In Maryland, a man was recently arrested and charged with stealing the identities of mental health patients. The man is alleged to have obtained personal information from medical records and used it to fraudulently obtain credit cards and make unauthorized purchases. This case highlights the importance of safeguarding personal information and the potential consequences of data breaches in the healthcare industry.
The man allegedly stole the identities of at least 26 patients from a healthcare facility where he had worked as a counselor. He then used this information to apply for credit cards and loans, which he used to make purchases and withdraw cash. The man is alleged to have stolen over $12,000 from the victim’s accounts.
The Consequences of Identity Theft
Identity theft can have severe consequences, particularly for individuals with mental health issues who may not have the resources or support to address the issue. Victims of identity theft can suffer financially and emotionally, and it can take years to repair the damages done to their credit rating and finances.
The Importance of Data Protection
The case highlights the need for strict data protection measures in the healthcare industry. Medical facilities must take measures to protect sensitive personal information, such as patients’ medical records, from unauthorized access and use. This includes implementing robust access controls, ensuring staff are properly trained on data security, and regularly reviewing and updating data protection policies.
Law Enforcement Response
The man involved in this case was arrested and charged with multiple counts of identity theft, fraud, and related crimes. If convicted, he could face significant fines, restitution, and time in prison.
Preventing Identity Theft
To prevent identity theft, individuals can take several steps, such as reviewing financial statements regularly, monitoring credit reports, and ensuring that personal information is stored securely. It is also important to report suspicious activity to the relevant authorities promptly.
The case of the Maryland man who stole the identities of mental health patients highlights the serious consequences of identity theft. The healthcare industry must take measures to prevent data breaches, and individuals must remain vigilant to protect their personal information. Law enforcement agencies must continue to work to bring identity thieves to justice and ensure that victims are appropriately compensated and protected from further harm.
On November 8, 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported the Christopher Andre Devine from Philadelphia pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The stolen identities were used to open fake bank accounts.
During the plea agreement, Devine and co-defendants admitted that they opened bank accounts in order to get check cards. The co-conspirators would then deposit fraudulent checks into the accounts and withdraw cash from ATM machines. The co-defendants are Quanishia Williamson-Ross and Lenee E. Williamson.
Devine admitted that he stole identities from 21 people in an adult residential program for mental needs after he purchased the information from an employee with the program. Devine used this information to open checking accounts over the telephone and internet.
Devine and the co-defendants bought items from restaurants, drug stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and numerous other businesses with the check cards. They also used the check card to pay for utilities like cable and cell phones.
Devine was caught in December of 2011 when authorities searched a van and two different residences occupied by the defendants. They found hundreds of credit cards, debit cards, social security cards, driver’s licenses, and personal information like names, addresses, credit information, and social security numbers.
About 300 people had their identities stolen in all, and 21 were from the mental health program. There were a total of 73 fraudulent bank accounts opened.
Each of the defendants faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the bank fraud and two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft.
The investigation was led by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Baltimore, the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, the IRS’s Criminal Investigations, and the Social Security Administration in Philadelphia. The enforcement was part of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement