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September 29, 2009

Insurance claims clerk guilty of identity theft

Shanell Bowser of Baltimore, Maryland, a claims clerk for a medical insurance adjuster, has been sentenced to five years in prison for identity theft.  She was also ordered to pay more than $200,000 in restitution to her many victims. 

Bowser used her job to gain access to the names, Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers of her victims.  Bowser used this information to open over 125 fraudulent accounts and victimize at least 89 people over a three year period.  Bowser purchased clothes and electronics, withdrew cash from ATMs and even used the stolen identities to obtain phone service.

I personally think employers that collect the personal identifiers of their customers should be held to higher standard in protecting that information.  That includes stricter standards governing their hiring practices.  Whether that would have protected the 89 people victimized by Bowser, I don't know.  But I would think she could have been stopped sooner than the three years that she was able to perpetuate her crime.

There should also be more severe criminal penalties for employees that steal, use or sell personal identifying information collected through their employment.

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