The Louisiana State University Health Care Services Division is notifying more than 400 patients that their personal information was compromised in a recently broken-up identity-theft and check-forgery ring that it is believed to have operated in at least 13 states.
At the center of the ring was a former LSU healthcare billing department worker, Pamela Reams, of Baton Rouge, who reportedly admitted to police detectives that documents she obtained from hospital system databases were used to create fraudulent checks, according to LSU and Louisiana State Police statements
Police said Reams told them she received payments for the information from another Baton Rouge woman, Tammy Matthews, "for the production of the counterfeit checks and identification cards," the Dec. 4 state police statement said.
Reams faces 377 counts of identity theft as well as possession of fraudulent documents for identification purposes and conspiracy to commit monetary abuse and bank fraud, the police statement said. Matthews is accused of conspiracy to commit identity theft and conspiracy to commit monetary abuses, police said. Four others involved in the scheme were arrested and face identity theft and other charges, according to police.
As part of their investigation, police obtained surveillance videos at several stores where counterfeit checks had been negotiated, catching Reams and three other women on video making purchases using counterfeit checks. Police then obtained warrants to search the homes of Reams and Matthews, where they found copies of scanned checks from the LSU hospital system database, several fictitious Louisiana ID cards, hand-written Social Security numbers, and various items used to print checks and ID cards.
Counterfeit checks have been cashed at retail stores "throughout Louisiana as well as in states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Florida," the police statement said. "A common theme among most of the victims involved was determined to be checks written to the Louisiana State University hospital system," it said.
Thus far, 416 patients whose information was found in the search of Reams' residence have been sent notification that their personal information had been compromised, according to LSU Health Care Services Division spokesman Marvin McGraw. The LSU system was notified about the breaches in mid-November.