Eight people, including an individual from the Bronx, N.Y.-based Montefiore Medical Center, have been indicted for stealing and using patients’ personal identifying information to make thousands of dollars in purchases at department stores and retailers in Manhattan.
In total, officials say that the alleged actions are estimated to have caused more than $50,000 in fraud. What’s more, the investigation by Montefiore Medical Center and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office revealed that the personal information of as many as 12,000 patients may have been compromised by the alleged conduct.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, Monique Walker, 32, was employed by Montefiore Medical Center as an assistant clerk in one of the hospital wings, where her position gave her access to patients’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and other personal information. Between 2012 and 2013, Walker allegedly printed thousands of patients’ records on a near daily basis and supplied them to a co-defendant for as little as $3 per record.
Fernando Salazar, 28, is accused of acting as the ringleader of the operation and allegedly purchased at least 250 items of personal identifying information from Walker. The stolen information was then provided to other defendants, who allegedly used it to make multiple trips to department stores and retailers, including Barneys New York, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Zales, Bergdorf Goodman, and Lord & Taylor, to purchase goods worth thousands of dollars through the use of store credit and gift cards.
The defendants are charged in New York State Supreme Court with varying counts of grand larceny in the second and third degrees, identity theft in the first degree, and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, among other charges.
“In case after case, we’ve seen how theft by a single company insider, who is often working with identity thieves on the outside, can rapidly victimize a business and thousands of its customers,” District Attorney Vance said in a press release. “Motivated by greed, profit, and a complete disregard for their victims, identity thieves often feed stolen information to larger criminal operations, which then go on to defraud additional businesses and victims. In this case, a hospital employee privy to confidential patient records allegedly sold financial information for as little $3 per record.”