What? Someone's Actually Gonna Do Time For Identity Theft?

Nakeshia Brown, a 30-year-old Houston woman, has been sentenced for stealing the identities of patients while working as a nurse at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

The Houston Press wrote about Brown's case in a cover story about identity theft, published in June of last year. The story highlighted the fact the ID thieves are often criminals with lengthy rap sheets of violent crimes, and the thieves rarely use complex schemes -- like hacking computers -- to steal someone's personal information.

Brown certainly wasn't a violent criminal, but she does fit in the not-trying-too-hard category. And the not-trying-too-hard-to-not-get-caught group.

Brown admitted to, while working as a nurse at the hospital, stealing fact sheets that included patients' names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, employment information and "other personal identifying information," according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney 's Office. Basically, the sheets had everything she needed to apply for a credit card.

In one case, in March of 2009, Brown took the information of a patient who died at the hospital and applied for a Target credit card.

The Press story underlined another problem with identity theft: the thieves often aren't caught, and when a crime is committed, investigators rarely pursue it. There are too many identity thefts and not enough resources to go after them.

"Now police officers will take your report, but it just gets put at the bottom of the stack, and the next one that comes in gets put under yours," John Brewer, the prosecutor who runs the identity theft bureau at the Harris County District Attorney's Office, told the Press.

Brown was busted because the dead patient's widow contacted the Social Security Administration when she found out about the Target card. Brown used her home address on the application, and when investigators went to the house and asked her about it, Brown confessed to stealing the patient information.

For that, Brown was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

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Paul Knight
Contact: Paul Knight