2 admit to using medical info to take over store credit accounts

Group used information from medical records to open store card accounts

January 06, 2014|By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun

Two women pleaded guilty Friday to using stolen medical records to open or take over credit accounts at department stores and setting up a cottage industry selling fraudulently obtained goods.

Chanell Cole, 30, and Yolanda Welch, 39, are scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Baltimore in April.

Until 2010 Cole, who is from Owings Mills, was the only employee of a rheumatologist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore and had access to the doctor's files, which she abused to obtain the names addresses and social security numbers of patients.

Initially the scam involved obtaining identity documents in the patients' names but with the photos of people in on the conspiracy, but it evolved into calling up department stores including Macy's, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's to see if the victims already had accounts.

If they did, the group hijacked those accounts and made purchases over the phone. Much of the merchandise ended up in the hands of Welch, who is from Philadelphia. She sold some of it using her eBay account; some was returned to the stores in exchange for gift cards.

In total the group, which operated between 2010 and early 2013, bought almost $1 million of merchandise from the three stores.

Two other women charged in the case have pleaded not guilty.



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