UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A former Manhattan hospital worker and his wife are charged with stealing the personal information of patients, and using it to fund orders for designer merchandise at luxury retailers.
The employee, 30-year old Kyle Steed and his wife, 30-year old Krystle Steed, are named in a 193-count indictment.
The two were indicted on charges of first-degree attempted grand larceny, second-degree grand larceny, and first-degree identity theft, among other charges.
They allegedly used stolen information to take control of victims' bank accounts, and place fraudulent orders for hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise.
"Identity thieves will stop at nothing to steal your personal information," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. "The conduct charged in this case is morally reprehensible. When a person is admitted to a hospital, the last thing that patient or their family members should be concerned about is whether their identity will be stolen."
"This scheme is especially disturbing considering the vulnerability of the victims, some of whom suffered from serious illness and were unable to protect their personal information from being exploited," said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, between January 2014 and February 2015, Kyle Steed stole the personal information of more than 80 emergency room patients while employed by Lenox Hill Hospital, where various records containing patients' names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers could be accessed.
Authorities say he provided the information to his wife, who used it to take over customer credit card accounts at Bank of America and American Express through a variety of methods, including the impersonation of legitimate account holders.
In some instances, according to the indictment, Krystle Steed was allegedly able to circumvent security questions by claiming to be at a doctor's office where she required immediate access to a credit card number to pay a bill; stating that she was doing holiday shopping with grandchildren and demanding that fraud prevention measures be lifted; becoming combative with customer service representatives and accusing them of biased treatment; and repeatedly placing calls inquiring about the same account in order to reach service representatives who were more susceptible to her methods of bypassing security questions.
She allegedly made more than $300,000 in fraudulent purchases, and attempted to make more than $1 million in additional purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue.
In at least one instance, a patient died at Lenox Hill Hospital only two hours before Krystle Steed took control of the patient's bank account and began making fraudulent charges, authorities say.
Lenox Hill Hospital released the following statement:
"Lenox Hill Hospital has been cooperating fully with law enforcement officials in their investigation of this matter and will be promptly notifying all impacted patients of the theft, which involved paper records. Mr. Steed had been employed at the hospital since 2011. The hospital immediately suspended him without pay in April 2015, when it was learned that he was the subject of a law enforcement investigation. Protecting the privacy of patient information is a top priority that we take very seriously. The hospital continues to take aggressive steps to strengthen the security protocols we have in place to protect patient information."