BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The LSU hospital system has notified 416 patients that their checking account numbers and other personal information on checks paid to hospitals has been stolen.
The LSU Health Care Services Division began notifying patients in November, after learning about the identity thefts from state police, spokesman Marvin McGraw said in an email Wednesday.
Sheila Seal, an employee at the LSU hospital in Bogalusa, and her husband, Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal, have said counterfeit checks totaling $2,500 were written on their account. Capt. Tommie Sorrell told The Daily News of Bogalusa that $25,000 was taken from 19 people in Washington Parish.
Patients' bank account numbers and other information on the checks scanned into hospital system records were used to make counterfeit checks and ID cards, said Trooper Jared Sandifer, a Louisiana State Police spokesman.
People notified by LSU should check their credit history and review this year's bank statements for unauthorized checks, reporting any they find to their banks and to LSU at 1-800-735-1185.
Sandifer did not know the total amount bought with counterfeit checks in stores throughout Louisiana and in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Almost all the counterfeit checks used the name of someone who had paid an LSU hospital or doctor by check. Most live in Louisiana but some live in 12 other states, police have said.
Former billing department employee Pamela Reams was booked in November with 377 counts of identity theft and is free on $60,000 bond. State police said Washington Parish sheriff's detectives first identified her and three other women on surveillance video that allegedly showed them buying items with counterfeit checks at several Washington Parish stores.
A total of seven people were booked with identity theft. Some were released without bond; bonds for others range from $5,000 to $26,000.
Information taken from the checks may have included checking account, driver's license, and Social Security numbers, date of birth, and other information, McGraw said.
LSU said the hospital system has re-evaluated policies and procedures about employee access of patient confidential information.
It also is investigating to find a starting date and checking computer access reports to see if any other patients' information may have been inappropriately accessed, McGraw said. "It's a slow process, but if that's found to be the case, those patients will be notified," McGraw said in his email.