When it comes to identity theft, Milwaukie Police Detective Kevin Krebs, says the cases he's dealt with have had strictly financial ramifications on victims, until now. He said the newest trend is criminals stealing victims' medical identities to scam prescription drugs from emergency departments.
"One of the ways to get prescription drugs is through hospitals," said Krebs. "But sometimes (criminals) can't use their own names because they've maxed out, and can't get anymore," he explained.
So, Krebs said some criminals have started using other people's names. Earlier this month, Milwaukie police officers arrested 40-year-old Patricia Hamlin on multiple theft charges, capping a year-long investigation into the Gresham woman.
Detectives said Hamlin visited emergency rooms at six different hospitals in the Portland Metro Area. When asked her for ID, police say Hamlin told emergency department attendants that she didn't have it. She then lied to get what she wanted by giving a mix of made-up and real names, causing victims headaches.
"That can create a financial mess for the individuals whose names are used because they get billed, and don't realize it," said Krebs.
"But what's worse," Krebs added, "is it creates a medical record that doesn't exist for that victim."
Victims like Angela Guckert, Hamlin's best friend. Hers was one of two real identities that police said Hamlin used.
"I was very shocked and I was crying and in disbelief that (Hamlin) could actually do that," said Guckert. Guckert said her tainted medical records made it hard to get legitimate prescription medication after a surgery.
"(My medical records) didn't make any sense. I had counted every pill I had and it wasn't the total that my primary doctor told me was on my records," said Guckert.
Krebs said even if patients don't show ID, doctors can't turn them away.
"No one went to medical school to be a policeman," said Legacy Emanuel Emergency Room Doctor, Nikolas Jones.
"We all go into this to try to help people... (prescription drug addiction) is a really complicated problem we have in the country right now."
A problem Krebs fears may only get worse.
"By having this awareness, maybe this will help get the ball rolling with the hospitals to realize this is a problem," said Krebs.