Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of KRYSTLE STEED, 31, for using personal information stolen from patients of Lenox Hill Hospital to take over victims’ bank accounts and place fraudulent orders for designer merchandise valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. The defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Identity Theft in the First Degree, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree, among other charges. She is expected to be sentenced on October 13, 2016.
“Stealing from those in a precarious state of health is contemptible,” said District Attorney Vance. “Even worse, in addition to stealing from more than 80 sick patients, the defendant took over a deceased patient’s bank account in order to make fraudulent charges mere hours after the patient passed away. I commend Lenox Hill Hospital for moving promptly to shut down the scheme and working with our Office to secure justice for the victims. I encourage all New Yorkers to monitor their account statements for similar signs of fraud.”
As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea, between January 2014 and February 2015, STEED used personal information stolen from more than 80 emergency room patients to take over victims’ credit card accounts and place fraudulent phone orders for designer merchandise valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.
During this period, STEED received stolen personal information from her husband, KYLE STEED, who was employed by Lenox Hill Hospital and was able to obtain patients’ names, dates of birth, and Social Security Numbers. Following the District Attorney’s Office’s investigation and indictment, KYLE STEED’s employment was terminated, and he was convicted of Attempted Grand Larceny in the First Degree.
When KRYSTLE STEED received the stolen information from KYLE STEED, she used it to take over customers’ bank accounts through a process commonly known as an account takeover. In some instances, she obtained account information directly from card issuers’ customer service representatives using a variety of ruses and false pretenses, including: claiming an immediate need to pay a bill at a doctor’s office; requesting that fraud prevention measures be lifted while holiday shopping with relatives; becoming aggressive with customer service representatives while accusing them of biased treatment; and placing repeated calls inquiring about the same account in order to reach representatives who were more susceptible to her attempts to gain control of the account.
After successfully taking control of multiple victims’ Bank of America and American Express accounts, STEED placed fraudulent phone orders for luxury merchandise valued at tens of thousands of dollars. In total, the defendant made fraudulent purchases of designer goods valued at more than $300,000, and attempted to make additional purchases of items valued at more than $1 million at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Assistant District Attorney Daniel Haier and former Assistant District Attorney David Neeman handled the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Glickman, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Brenda Fischer, Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Kenn Kern, Chief of Staff of the Investigation Division, and former Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Cybercrime Analysts Margaret Lovric and Lilianna Rembar, as well as former Cybercrime Analyst Christina Chen, also assisted with the case.
District Attorney Vance thanked Detective Peter Sganga and Police Officers Frank Cleri and Arelis Dubose of the NYPD’s Bronx Grand Larceny Squad, as well as Lenox Hill Hospital, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bank of America, and American Express for their assistance and cooperation with the investigation.
KRYSTLE STEED, D.O.B. 12/31/84
- Attempted Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
- Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
- Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
- Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
- Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count