Feds: IDs stolen from Tampa ER patients used for tax fraud

TAMPA — Someone used personal information stolen from emergency room patients at Florida Hospital Tampa to commit tax fraud, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

Two local women and a San Diego man were arrested Thursday on federal fraud charges.

Tanya Cullens of Brandon worked for Crothall Healthcare, a contractor responsible for maintenance at the hospital, when a list of ER patients' names, Social Security numbers and other information was stolen in January, the complaint said.

Cullens is accused of giving the list to a 10-year veteran tax return preparer, who in turn filed fraudulent tax returns using the patients' names without their permission.

Florida Hospital, formerly called University Community Hospital, released a statement that said in part: "We recently learned that personal information relating to 45 of our patients had been compromised in January 2012. These patients have been notified and we are fully cooperating with investigating agencies. We deeply regret that this incident occurred."

The complaint said Cullens was a part of a ring that included Carlista Hawls of Riverview and Kenyon Williams of San Diego. Along with the unnamed preparer, the group is accused of filing 225 fake tax returns, requesting $1.56 million in refunds in 2012. The IRS processed about $550,000 of the fake refunds, documents show.

The preparer told investigators that Hawls filed false returns and flew with her to San Diego to train Kenyon Williams. While there, Williams gave them more names to use, the complaint said.

One list had come from a naval hospital in San Diego, but the preparer refused to use it because her son was in the military, she told authorities.

Bay News 9 contributed to this report.

Feds: IDs stolen from Tampa ER patients used for tax fraud 11/29/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 30, 2012 12:02am]

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