Woman accused of stealing electricity

Catherine Ceasar, 43, has been charged with fraudulent use/possession of identifying information.

February 2, 2011 5:00:22 PM PST
A security breach at Texas Children's Hospital is under investigation. Investigators say a woman used stolen personal information to steal electricity from a utility company. Investigators who work at the Criminal Justice Center say they've seen a surge in these types of cases. It's an alarming trend that often leads to serious problems for the person whose personal information has been compromised.

Catherine Ceasar is accused of stealing electricity. Prosecutors say she used someone else's Social Security number to do it.

Assistant Harris County District Attorney Ed McClees explained, "The Social Security number attaches to your credit, so the identity thieves look for people that have good credit. If they can get their Social Security number, they can use that and piggyback all sorts of other goods and services."

Ceasar allegedly set up the account with Champion Energy in August of last year. According to court documents, "Ceasar admitted to having power at her residence in another person's name." Investigators say Ceasar "stated she was paying someone else for power at her residence and that she was not paying the light company."

While no one answered the door at Ceasar's north Houston home, we caught up with an unidentified man as he was leaving the house.

"She's not here anymore," he said. "She's probably at work."

The allegations against Ceasar were made on the heels of a letter sent out by Texas Children's Hospital to many of its patients, alerting them that their "name and Social Security number may have been inappropriately accessed and that the information may have been used to open electricity accounts."

What's not clear is who stole the information from TCH or the number of fraudulent utility accounts that were opened using other people's names.

"Someone who was worked hard their entire life to get good credit, their credit can be ruined by this person and that, in some sense, is worse than a robbery," McClees said.

Texas Children's Hospital released the following statement:

    "The hospital deeply regrets what has happened and that this incident has created unease among some of our employees and colleagues. We are taking this matter very seriously and will continue cooperating with the investigation until this issue is resolved. We remain committed to keeping the privacy and confidentiality of personal information a top priority."
The case investigation remains ongoing.

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