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Medical Centers a Hotspot for Identity Theft

Health care professionals have been implicated in several cases, highlighting exactly how vulnerable medical records—and the medical profession itself—is to identity theft and fraud. From rogue employees using patient information to go on shopping sprees to data breaches with unknown consequences or doctors using identities to defraud government health care programs, our most personal data could be at a potential criminal's fingertips.

Medical worker charged with stealing patient IDs

An employee of a New York medical center is charged with stealing patient identities and using them to make thousands of dollars in purchases along with seven other suspects, according to ABC 7.

Authorities believe more than $50,000 in fraud occurred and as many as 12,000 patients were affected.

Monique Walker is accused of using her employee access to steal patient records nearly every day and supply them to a co-defendant for as little as $3 per record.

Fernando Salazar is charged with acting as the operation's ringleader, allegedly purchasing 250 identities from Walker. That stolen information was then allegedly provided to co-defendants Patricia Charles, Lawrence Davenport-Brown, Charde Lawrence, Ashly Garrett, Sasha Rivera and Crystal White.

The suspects are charged with grand larceny, identity theft and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.

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Thousands of California patient records breached

Nearly 5,000 patient records at a university medical center in Southern California were breached over a four-year period, according to the OC Register.

One employee with access to patient records viewed thousands of records "without a job-related purpose." Experts who analyzed the employee's hard drive and e-mail account say there's no evidence the records were downloaded, but university police were notified.Officials did not comment on whether the employee was still working for the medical center, but said the employee was disciplined and no longer has access to its computer systems.

The medical center is offering one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to those affected by the breach.

LA doctors accused of $66 million Medicare fraud

Two Los Angeles area doctors stand accused of scheming to defraud Medicare to the tune of about $66 million, MyNewsLA reports.

Doctors Joseph R. Altamirano and Robert A. Glazer are charged with various crimes related to health-care fraud, including conspiracy, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors say Altamirano had recruiters look for Medicare beneficiaries so he could write “medically unnecessary” prescriptions for medical supplies and home health services. Both doctors allegedly bilked Medicare out of a combined $66 million using Medicare beneficiaries' identities to make claims for unneeded or unused services.

Former hospital CFO sent to prison

A former hospital CFO was sentenced to federal prison for lying to federal agents investigating fraud and identity theft allegations against the Texas hospital chain he worked for, according to KWTX.

Joe White was sentenced to nearly two years in prison. An aggravated identity theft charge was dropped in return for his plea.

White worked for physician Tariq Mahmood, who was sentenced in April to 11 years for conspiracy, identity theft and health care fraud for making more than $1 million in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims.

Mahmood operated six hospitals in rural Texas that have since been shut down or transferred to new owners.

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