Couple Charged with Identity Theft in $1.3 Million Retail Fraud Scheme

A former Manhattan hospital worker and his wife have been charged in an identity theft scheme after stealing the personal information of hospital patients and using the information to buy designer merchandise at luxury retailers, according to prosecutors.

The employee, 30-year old Kyle Steed and his wife, 30-year old Krystle Steed, are named in a 193-count indictment on charges of first-degree attempted grand larceny, second-degree grand larceny, and first-degree identity theft, among other charges.

According to reports, Kyle Steed stole the personal information of more than 80 emergency room patients between January 2014 and February 2015 while employed by Lenox Hill Hospital. Steed worked at the facility and was responsible for cleaning surgical equipment in the emergency room. He is accused of accessing records containing patients’ names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers as part of the identity theft operation. He then allegedly provided the information to his wife, who used the information to take over customer credit card accounts through a variety of methods.

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In some instances, Krystle Steed allegedly impersonated account holders and was able to get past security questions by claiming to be at a doctor’s office where she needed immediate access to pay a bill. In some instances she would claim that she was doing some holiday shopping with grandchildren and demanded that retail fraud prevention measures be lifted so that she could make the purchases. If customer service representatives refused to comply she would become combative and accuse them of biased treatment. If that didn’t work, the indictment stated that she would repeat these efforts, making additional calls until she reached a customer service representative who was more vulnerable to her tactics and would do what she requested.

After gaining control of the accounts she allegedly made more than $300,000 in fraudulent purchases, and attempted to make an additional $1 million in high-end retail purchases from Saks Fifth Avenue. Among the items purchased in the identity theft scheme were approximately 50 Chanel handbags valued at $6000 each, high-end sneakers, and other luxury items according to authorities. A search warrant executed at their home uncovered a significant amount of high-end merchandise.

“This scheme is especially disturbing considering the vulnerability of the victims, some of whom suffered from serious illness and were unable to protect their personal information from being exploited,” said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton. The Manhattan district attorney’s office said in one case a patient died just two hours before the couple stole their identity.

“The conduct charged in this case is morally reprehensible,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. “When a person is admitted to a hospital, the last thing that patient or their family members should be concerned about is whether their identity will be stolen.”

Kyle and Krystle Steed both pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court and have a court appearance scheduled for January. In unrelated incidents, Krystle Steed has two additional open cases including one for shoplifting and a pending identity theft case in the Bronx.

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