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    Chicago Sun-Times: Private patient information stolen from Northwestern used in massive identity theft

    The Chicago Sun-Times reports that patients’ financial data left in unlocked file cabinets was allegedly stolen from Northwestern Memorial Hospital and used by accused thieves to rack up more than $300,000 in credit-card charges:

    Arrested and charged were Shikila Blount, 29, Chicago; Dorothy Brown, 20, Harvey; Tangie Strickland, 18, Chicago; Talonda Hampton, 35, Mt. Vernon; Shamara Bright, 22, Chicago, Crystal Cannon-Kariuki, 30, Chicago and Eartricca Johnson, 26, Centralia, Ill. […]

    Charges for all the suspects — three of whom are sisters — range from felony theft to identity theft to organizing a continuing financial criminal enterprise. A number of those charged appeared in bond court Thursday.

    [Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart] said the theft ring started with Leonard, who worked for a janitorial service contracted to clean Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation offices. […]

    Working at night, Leonard jotted down private patient information from as many as 250 files. That information was used to solicit credit reports or for applying to be added on to cardholder accounts, he said.

    Once given access to the accounts, the shopping sprees began, often in suburban areas where those using the fraudulent account information would claim discrimination if their access to credit was questioned by cashiers, Dart said. […]

    A spokesman for Northwestern Memorial Hospital released a statement that the hospital takes patient privacy “very seriously” and was working with Dart to identify possible victims.

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