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Identity theft in nursing homes

Published on January 29th, 2009

WTOC in Savannah, Ga. had a story about a nursing home employee charged with elder abuse and stealing the identities of as many as 40 residents from nursing homes.  Police say Tamara Smith used her job as a certified nursing assistant to gain access to patients’ personal information. She is accused of using the information of 43 former and current nursing home residents to buy computers, cell phones, and open credit cards. The victims range in age from 60 to as old as 100.

For every victim over the age of 65, Smith is being charged an additional count of elder abuse.  "You wonder how someone can do this to people in nursing homes who have nothing at that point in their life anyway," said Thunderbolt police chief Irene Pennington. "She had been getting away with it, but it took good investigations to catch up with her."  I certainly don’t agree with Chief Pennington’s comments that residents "have nothing at that point in their life anyway."

The investigation started 15 months ago after a single complaint to police from one resident’s family. The number of victims continues to grow and more arrests are expected.

How could this happen?  Why didn’t the Administrator realize what was going on? 

Joe Pioletti
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