Former Hospital Employee and Three Others Indicted in Identity Theft Scheme
Stole the Financial and Identifying Information of Hospital Patients and Their Families
Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted four individuals, including a former employee of the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), in connection with a scheme in which the identifying information of UMMC patients and others was stolen and used to defraud financial institutions. The indictment was returned on July 6, 2011, and unsealed today upon the arrest of the following defendants:
Kenneth Elliott McDowell, age 47;
Wendy Hinton, age 21; and
William White, age 54, all of Baltimore.
The fourth defendant, Devin Jarmal Smith, a/k/a Sean Jones, age 20, also of Baltimore, is still being sought by law enforcement.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III; and Christa Phillips, Inspector General of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said, “The defendants are charged with preying upon seriously ill hospital patients and their families by using their personal information to access their credit accounts and even to open new credit accounts using their identities. Anyone who finds evidence that their names or credit cards have been used in a fraud scheme should report it to the authorities immediately.”
Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel Cortez said, “This investigation demonstrates the commitment of Postal Inspectors to pursuing identity thieves and others who misuse the U.S. mail for criminal purposes.”
The 17-count indictment alleges that McDowell, a former employee of UMMC, accessed patient files and obtained the personal financial and identity information of patients and other individuals who had agreed to pay for their medical treatment. From July 2009, through June 2011, McDowell then provided that information to his co-conspirators. According to the indictment, the defendants also stole the personal financial and identity information of their own family members and others with whom they came in contact. The indictment alleges that the defendants used the stolen information to open new credit accounts in the identities of the victims and other individuals and to access the existing accounts of the victims.
The indictment alleges that in order to conceal the scheme, the defendants contacted customer service representatives for the various financial institutions, posing as the customers whose information had been stolen, and requested: that the addresses on the customers’ accounts be changed to addresses accessible to the defendants and other members of the conspiracy; that new checks, credit and/or debit cards be issued on the accounts and sent to the new address; and requested information about the compromised accounts.
According to the indictment, the defendants then used the fraudulently obtained checks, debit and credit cards to access the victims’ bank accounts, purchase goods and merchandise, and obtain cash advances, without the victims’ knowledge or permission.
Each of the defendants faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the conspiracy. Devin Smith also faces 30 years in prison for each of five counts of bank fraud and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for each of five counts of aggravated identity theft. Kenneth McDowell faces a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for each of four counts of aggravated identity theft. Wendy Hinton and William White each also face a maximum of 30 years in prison for bank fraud and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft. The defendants had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore today and were released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Baltimore City Police Department and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City - Office of Inspector General for their work and expressed appreciation to the University of Maryland Medical Center for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Tamera L. Fine, who is prosecuting the case.