Identity theft ring used lab records

Frederick County man stunned by purchase of new Cadillac in his name

5 arrested

investigation widens

April 13, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Edward Smith was puzzled last month as he read a letter from Geico congratulating him on his recent purchase of a Cadillac Escalade.

He said he called the auto insurance company and learned that the $42,100 vehicle had been purchased by someone using his name and Social Security number. About the same time, a Home Depot in Washington called him to verify a suspicious $6,500 purchase.

Yesterday, the 37-year-old Frederick County resident gasped when he learned the apparent source of the identity theft: his medical records from the private laboratory that analyzes his blood work.

Baltimore County police have charged a 21-year-old employee of Quest Diagnostics, which describes itself as the nation's largest provider of lab testing, with five counts of identity theft.

Court documents also link the employee to the recent identity thefts of numerous U.S. Navy officers stationed on a Norfolk, Va.-based aircraft carrier.

Four other Baltimore men were arrested this month after they tried to use the identity of a Quest patient to make a large purchase at Home Depot, county police said.

One of those men is linked in court documents to the Navy's identity theft case.

Bill Toohey, a spokesman for the Baltimore County police, said yesterday that officers are still uncovering layers of what appears to be a large-scale identity-theft ring.

"We're still trying to measure the breadth and depth to this," he said. "It stretches across the region."

The Quest employee, Darren G. Rogers of Baltimore, was arrested Friday night as he arrived for work at the company's laboratory on Sulphur Spring Road in Baltimore.

A Quest spokeswoman said the company trains its 37,000 employees to carefully guard patient information and runs "appropriate background checks" on prospective employees.

"We are committed to the highest standards of protecting the privacy of personal health information," said spokeswoman Jennifer Somers. "This is a highly unusual incident, and we're investigating it to understand what happened."

Rogers is accused of stealing personal information about Smith and at least four others, including an 84-year-old Quest patient from Washington and a 73-year-old patient from Bethesda.

He is accused of using their personal information to open credit lines to buy expensive vehicles and thousands of dollars in home-improvement merchandise, according to court documents.

The Navy is investigating an identity-theft case in which the personal information of about 20 Navy officers aboard the USS George Washington was fraudulently used between June and November of last year in Baltimore and Fairfax counties, authorities said.

The aircraft carrier is based in Norfolk but was deployed in January to the Arabian Gulf.

Rogers' address - an apartment in the 4800 block of Overton Road in Baltimore - was listed on fraudulent credit applications that used the names of several Navy officers, according to court documents.

"Navy investigators are working closely with Baltimore and Fairfax police," said Cmdr. Conrad Chun, a Navy spokesman. He declined to give specifics about the Navy's investigation.

Baltimore County police made four arrests April 5 after an off-duty officer working security at the Perring Parkway Home Depot noticed four men acting suspiciously as they tried to purchase about $10,000 in pipes and windows, according to court documents.

The men fled the store in a red sports car and a U-Haul truck while employees were verifying their credit information, but Baltimore County officers caught up with them on nearby Wycliffe Road.

A search of the sports car - a Nissan 350Z - turned up medical forms for two Quest patients, and the $50,900 car was registered under the name of a third Quest patient, court documents state.

Also in the car, police found a Washington, D.C., driver's license with the name of an 84-year-old Quest patient who lives in Washington and the photo of a 24-year-old who lives in Severn. Police said the man pictured, Charles A. Pineiro, had been driving the car when police stopped it.

The four men arrested that day have been charged with attempted felony theft. According to court records, they are: Derrick T. Faulcon, 22, Dominic A. Watkins, 19, Kevin L. Mosely, 34, all of Baltimore, and Pineiro, who also has been charged with the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle for allegedly purchasing the Nissan under a Quest patient's name.

Faulcon also had been arrested New Year's Day and charged with felony theft after a Navy officer's name was used to purchase a 2000 Lexus LS400, according to court documents. The car is valued at about $30,000.

Police said additional charges could be filed against the four men and against Rogers. It is unclear how the men know each other.

After the April 5 incident at Home Depot, detectives learned that Rogers worked as a specimen processor at Quest's Baltimore lab and had access to patient information, according to court documents.

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