LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- In today’s Rip-Off Alert, a case that illustrates an important point-identity theft can occur anywhere. It can happen even in places where you would most expect your personal information to be safe.
"A woman behind the desk asked me for my Social Security” number, said Beverly Tiernan. “My generation gives that freely, especially in a safe place like a hospital."
Tiernan was in a hospital emergency room being treated for injuries resulting from a car accident.
"Little did I know that in a few months I would find out that she was giving my Social Security number, along with many other people's, to a bad ring of ID theft," Tiernan said.
"The number of actual victims: 332,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Ivan Ramirez. “Their identities had been compromised."
Tiernan realized she was a victim when her husband tried to access her bank account.
"They told him my account had been compromised," she said.
The ID thieves began withdrawing money using her identity through 11 separate accounts they had created.
Ramirez said the overall from the hundreds of victims, including Tiernan, was about $631,000.
"There are a lot of people who work very hard for their money and do it in an honest way,” Tiernan said. “It's very hard when it's taken from you in that way."
Tiernan got her money back.
Postal inspectors say the hospital employee was selling patients' information in the id theft ring and was one of five people arrested in the scheme.