POSTED: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 8:00pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 8:04pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — It’s an identity theft scheme that Louisiana State Police say cheated hundreds out of their money, spanned multiple states and ended with seven arrests.
"Without a doubt something we weren't expecting,” explained LSP public information officer Jared Sandifer, “It’s covering multiple parishes, actually multiple states that these checks have been passed in. a lot of agency collaboration, especially with the United States Secret Service."
The investigation started in Washington Parish where police say several counterfeit checks were being cashed at local stores. That's when state police noticed a trend and realized the scam was bigger than they imagined.
"Washington Parish advised us that there was something in common with all of it and that was that most of the victims had either written checks or paid bills to the LSU hospital system. That’s when we became involved," Sandifer explained.
When police dug further they said they found one woman at the center of the scam, 47 year-old Pamela Reams. Reams was employed at the LSU hospital billing department at the time and police said she had been taking financial information from patients paying their bills, then allegedly used and sold that information to make fake ID cards and checks.
"This was definitely an abuse of power situation. She had access to financial databases and she was taking people's identifications and checking account numbers and she was selling that information to accomplices of hers," Sandifer recounted.
LSP also arrested 34 year-old Meshaune Wilson, 44 year-old Lisa Haynes, 37 year-old Valencia Paul, 47 year-old Tammy Matthews, 46 year-old Lisa Anderson and 42 year-old Billy Ray Taylor in connection to these crimes. All are facing various identity theft related charges.