More than 400 had info stolen
By Marsha Shuler
Capitol news bureau
December 28, 2012
LSU officials are sending letters to more than 400 people alerting them to the potential theft of personal information about them by a former employee.
The individuals names were found during a search of the residence of former LSU Health Care Services Division employee Pamela Reams, one of seven people arrested recently in a counterfeit check and identity theft scheme.
Reams is accused of printing images of checks stored in the hospital system’s financial database and turning them into counterfeit checks.
LSU HCSD manages seven public hospitals in south Louisiana, including those in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Bogalusa, Independence, Houma and Lake Charles.
“There were victims in each of the areas served by our seven HCSD hospitals,” LSU HCSD spokesman Marvin McGraw said.
So far, 417 people have been sent the notifications, McGraw said.
“Internal investigators are currently going through computer access reports to see if there might be any other patients’ information ... inappropriately accessed,” McGraw said. “It’s a slow process, but if that’s found to be the
case, those patients will be notified.”
Information accessed by Reams varied by patient but may have included checking account, driver’s license, Social Security numbers, date of birth and other demographic information, according to a news release issued Wednesday.
The checks were being made only in Baton Rouge but were spent all over Louisiana, including in Shreveport, Lafayette and Hammond, law enforcement officials said at the time of the arrests.
The checks were also cashed out of state, in such places as McComb, Miss., and Destin, Fla.
One official involved in the investigation, Washington Parish Sheriff’s Department criminal investigations chief Capt. Tommie Sorrell, said $100,000 in fraudulent checks may have been cashed. Washington Parish investigated numerous complaints of identity theft.
The common denominator among most victims was that they had written checks to the LSU Health Care Services Division before being victimized.
The LSU HCSD letter encourages those affected to review their bank account statements for 2012 to determine whether any unauthorized checks were written against their accounts. Any questionable transaction should be immediately reported to your banking institution, the letter advises.
Further, LSU HCSD requests that any findings of unauthorized access be reported to it at (800) 735-1185 so that law enforcement may be notified. As an additional precaution, those affected are encouraged to monitor their credit history, the letter advises.
LSU HCSD were notified by law enforcement on Nov. 14 of the activity.
It has been estimated that the unauthorized access may have begun in January, the news release said. But LSU HCSD is continuing its investigation to determine when the activity began.
The illegal use by the employee of patient checking account information has led LSU HCSD to re-evaluate its policies and procedures related to employee access of patient confidential information, the release said.
LSU HCSC must by federal law and regulations notify all known affected patients by letter of the unauthorized access.