Sep 202018

From the Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, an announcement of a settlement in the wake of insider breaches: 

BOSTONUMass Memorial Medical Group Inc. and UMass Memorial Medical Center Inc. will pay a total of $230,000 to resolve claims that two separate data breaches exposed the personal and health information of more than 15,000 Massachusetts residents, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.According to the AG’s complaint, filed last week along with a consent judgment in Suffolk Superior Court, two former employees of UMass Memorial Medical Group Inc. and UMass Memorial Medical Center Inc. in separate breaches improperly accessed patients’ personal and protected health information for fraudulent purposes, such as opening cell phone accounts and credit card accounts. The AG’s Office alleges the UMass entities violated the Consumer Protection Act, the Massachusetts Data Security Law, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act when they failed to properly protect patients’ information.

“Massachusetts residents rely on their health care providers to keep private health information safe and secure,” said AG Healey. “This resolution ensures UMass Memorial implements important measures to prevent this type of breach from happening again.”

Investigations by the AG’s Office revealed that the breaches exposed patient information including names, addresses, social security numbers, clinical information and health insurance information.

The AG’s lawsuit alleges that UMass Memorial Medical Group Inc. and UMass Memorial Medical Center Inc. knew of these employees’ misconduct but failed to properly investigate complaints related to these breaches, discipline the employees involved in a timely manner, or take other steps to safeguard the information.

As part of the settlement, the UMass Memorial Medical Group Inc. and UMass Memorial Medical Center Inc. have agreed to conduct employee background checks and ensure proper employee discipline; train employees on the proper handling of patient information; limit employee access to patient information; identify and remediate potential data security issues; and promptly investigate suspected improper access to patient information.

The UMass Memorial entities will also be required to hire an independent third-party firm to conduct a review of its data security policies and procedures, which the health care entities will report to the AG’s Office.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael Wong and Legal Analyst Elizabeth Carnes Flynn, with assistance from Division Chief Eric Gold, all of AG Healey’s Health Care Division.

Sep 192018

Ada Hui reports:

On Thursday, September 6, the Fresno Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California concluded a 14-month-long civil forfeiture case to seize assets and property that belonged to Alexandre Cazes, the Canadian national who committed suicide by hanging in Thai prison last summer – days after being arrested on suspicion of operating the darknet marketplace AlphaBay.

Cazes, whose death prevented him from standing trial, is alleged to have facilitated and profited from sales of illegal goods and services to U.S. and overseas customers on AlphaBay until it was shut down by law enforcement in a dramatic confrontation outside of his primary residence, where he was led off in handcuffs on conspiracy charges related to identity theft, fraud, racketeering, trafficking and money laundering on July 7, 2017.

Read more on Coindesk.

Sep 122018

Molly Sullivan reports:

Thirty-two suspected gang members were charged on suspicion of committing a “high-tech crime,” which involved hacking into credit card terminals in dental and medical offices, and stealing patient identities, the California Department of Justice announced Monday.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a news conference in Sacramento the gangs, known as the BullyBoys and CoCo Boys, teamed up to steal at least 40 credit card terminals, which he called the “modern cash register.” The terminals — which are used to process credit and debit card payments — were burglarized and hacked to process $1 million in fraudulent returns.

“This is big money,” Becerra said.

Read more on SacBee.

Aug 132018

In June, I posted an item about how BCBS of Illinois was notifying people after a vendor informed them that law enforcement had alerted them that a vendor’s employee was not a licensed physician but an identity thief.

That story did not seem to get a lot of press attention, but subsequent revelations named the physician in question as Spyros Panos of New York, a physician who had surrendered his license in 2013 after pleading guilty to healthcare fraud.

While Panos’s deception impacted less than 100 Iowa residents, and there is no indication that he misused those patients’ information, a recent report by Gallagher Bassett to the California Attorney General’s Office indicated that 1,294 workers compensation claimants in the state were affected. Their report also suggested that there were a number of entities involved in the chain. Gallagher Bassett, the third party administrator, wrote that to assist clients in providing compensation claims services,

Gallagher Bassett engages third parties who specialize in peer reviews, including Dane Street LLC and Coventry Health Care Workers Compensation, Inc. (“Coventry”).

Dane Street was the vendor involved in the BCBS of Illinois notification. A footnote to Gallagher and Bassett’s notification added:

In this matter, Coventry engaged Advanced Medical Reviews (“AMR”).

Panos worked for a number of these specialist physician review vendors, and any company he worked for would have been notifying clients of the problem.

The referenced federal case is U.S.A. v. Panos, No. 7:18-mj- 02963-UA-1 (S.D.N.Y. 2018) (Doc. 2). Looking at the complaint, it appears that Panos allegedly started this scheme early (2013) and with the possible assistance of family members.

So given that Panos appears to have been doing this for years, how many patients had their protected health information disclosed to this alleged identity thief? Should we be seeing this on HHS’s public breach tool, because I haven’t seen it — at least not from Dane Street or Coventry or Advanced Medical Reviews. sent Dane an inquiry asking whether this was reported by them, by their clients, or by neither to HHS. This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

And while I have your attention:  this incident does not have the makings of a mega-breach in terms of numbers. But what about the cost to businesses who hired him or relied upon him?  And what about the people whose cases he reviewed? Would someone who was so unethical as to engage in healthcare fraud hesitate to find a claimant ineligible for compensation if such a recommendation might make companies more likely to refer cases to him, knowing that companies do not want to be giving away a lot of money on claims?  Should all those whose cases were reviewed by him be seeking to appeal and a re-opening of their claims if he recommended denial of claims? What costs will attach to THAT?



Jul 232018

WTVY reports that if a federal judge approves a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit, more than 1200 patients of Flowers Hospital in Alabama might receive reimbursement for credit monitoring expenses, payment for up to four hours of lost wages dealing with the breach, and a refund of any interest lost due to tax refund fraud.

The incident, which involved a corrupt employee selling patient data for a tax refund fraud scheme, was first revealed in April 2014, and has been covered numerous times on this site.

The lawsuit by patients was granted class action status in March, 2017.