The Identity Theft You Haven't Heard of...Yet
By Amy Engeler
They're not just going on shopping sprees anymore. Now thieves are using
your personal info (or your child's) to get a job, buy a house, and have major
surgery — which wrecks not just your bank account but also your medical
When her labor pains began last April, Dorothy Bell Moran, a troubled
28-year-old, showed up alone at Alta View Hospital in the Salt Lake City area.
As identification, she handed over a driver's license. It wasn't hers, but
Moran looked enough like the woman in the photo — young, with long dark hair
and a toothy smile — that no one questioned her.
Moran was only 33 weeks pregnant, so she was taken to nearby University
Hospital, which is better equipped to handle preemies. When she refused to
pronounce her name at the intake desk, the sympathetic clerk assumed it was
because she was in so much pain. Moran gave birth to a daughter without any
friends or family around. Several days later, when the hospital ran tests, the
baby girl came up positive for methamphetamine. But doctors couldn't talk to
Moran — at some point, she had walked out of the hospital, leaving her newborn
Soon after the baby's tests came back, Anndorie Sachs, 28, a biomedical
engineering student who lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and kids,
received a call from the Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS).
Your newborn, the investigator said, tested positive for drugs. "What do
you mean?" Sachs recalls saying. "I didn't just have a baby." The
agent's response: "Don't try to pull that with me!" She notified Sachs
that DCFS was ready to put through paperwork to take custody of Sachs's four
children, then ages 2 to 7.
Sachs connected the dots right away: Two months earlier, someone had stolen
her driver's license from her car. Remembering that, she called her husband, a
contractor, who sped home from work.
As the couple was sitting in their living room anxiously awaiting the agent,
their 7-year-old daughter, Sierra, was being pulled from her first-grade
classroom. The DCFS agent asked the girl if her mother had been in the hospital
recently. Sierra answered yes, and proudly showed off the spot on her arm where
a nurse had inserted an IV. (She'd had an infection several days earlier.) Then
the investigator asked Sierra if her mom had a new baby. The little girl said
no. And, no, her mother had not been away for the past few days.
When the DCFS agent finally arrived at the house, she could see that Sachs
hadn't given birth recently. But she still needed proof that this wasn't the
woman who had abandoned an infant in a hospital and racked up a $10,000 bill.
"It took five full minutes," Sachs recalls, "before she started to
believe what I was saying."
The accusations were dropped and Sachs was cleared of paying Moran's
hospital bills, but the ordeal wasn't over. Sachs's medical records had been
altered to include the blood type and general health record of a complete
stranger. The two hospitals assured Sachs that they'd fixed the problem, but
she can't be 100 percent sure because — in a catch-22 of utter insanity — they
wouldn't let her see her own records, lest Moran's privacy rights be violated.
"It's especially scary," she says, "because I have a blood-clotting
disorder. If a doctor gave me the wrong blood type, it could be fatal."