A New York woman was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison Aug. 26 for her role in stealing the identities of 50 to 60 patients at a hospital where she was previously employed, the Albany Times Union reports. Suzette Guzman-Moore and her boyfriend, Emmett Woods, were arrested in May on charges of fraud and identity theft for using patients’ personal information to apply for and use credit cards.
Woods was sentenced to 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison. Guzman-Moore stole the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and birth dates from the files of patients at Albany Medical Center Hospital, where she worked as a licensed practical nurse. She was fired and had her nursing license revoked, and while she was crucial to the couple’s identity theft scheme, Guzman-Moore received a lesser sentence than Woods because she had no previous felony record.
The two spent thousands of dollars using the fraudulently obtained credit cards, and as part of their sentences, Woods and Guzman-Moore must pay a combined $2,048 in restitution. Investigators found credit card applications and fake checks at their home, as well.
Medical-related identity theft can be particularly difficult to deal with because it’s more likely to go undetected than unauthorized credit card use, and on top of that, consumers have an expectation that their information is safe within the healthcare system. Hospitals store a wealth of information on patients, making them an attractive target for thieves looking for identities to poach. Stories of cyberattacks and rogue hospital employees (or contractors) are common in the healthcare industry, like one from earlier this month involving a man arrested in Florida for allegedly stealing healthcare documents he was supposed to shred for a VA hospital.
Identity theft can go undetected for a long time, which is why it’s important for consumers to regularly review their credit reports and credit scores. You are entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the major credit reporting agencies, which you can request through AnnualCreditReport.com. And to check on things more frequently, you can get two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com. By checking your credit score every month, you’ll notice any sudden changes to your scores, which may be a sign of fraud.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- What Should I Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft?
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