The Tampa Tribune reports that Ricardo Jacinto Rodriguez, a former volunteer at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, has been accused of stealing patients' identities, which were then used to file fraudulent tax returns claiming refunds totaling approximately $550,000 (h/t PHIprivacy.net).
According to court documents, Rodriguez stole 106 patients' names and Social Security numbers from the hospital's official records on January 25, 2012. He then allegedly gave that information to Andropolis Jioberiti Mitchell, who prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns.
Rodriguez and Mitchell then allegedly used prepaid debit cards loaded with the tax refunds to buy merchandise and make ATM withdrawals.
Hospital spokeswoman Karen Collins told the Tampa Tribune that Rodriguez, who was a volunteer at the hospital from October 11, 2011 to November 28, 2012, served as a patient escort and made phone calls to patients to remind them of upcoming appointments.
Collins said the hospital has already notified the 106 patients who are believed to be affected, and has created a task force to identify safeguards and vulnerabilities regarding patient information.
PHIprivacy.net notes that this is the third such case at the hospital in recent years.
According to the Tampa Tribune, tax fraud is rampant in the area, fueled by the availability of patient information from medical facilities and from companies that perform credit checks.