Updated: A former Department of Health and Human Services employee was arrested Thursday for allegedly transferring the personal information of more than 228,000 state Medicaid recipients to his personal email, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.
Christopher Lykes, 36, of Swansea, was charged with five counts of Medically Indigent Act confidentiality violations and one count of disclosure of confidential information.
Lykes was booked at the Richland County Detention Center and his bond was set at $100,000.
On April 10, DHHS discovered the breach and contacted SLED. The next day SLED agents seized Lykes work and personal computer.
Lykes allegedly collected names, phone numbers, addresses, birth dates and Medicaid ID numbers of 228,435 beneficiaries and sent the information to his personal email account.
DHHS officials say it's not clear why Lykes sent the information to his personal email.
The information was included in 17 spreadsheets starting from Jan. 31 to April.
The department’s information technology personnel discovered the transfer of data after a review of Lykes business email account prior to being fired for performance reasons, according to SLED.
SLED officials say at least one other person received the information from Lykes.
No private medical records or financial information was transferred, according to the department.
“Our department is entrusted with personal information for hundreds of thousands of individuals, and it is our duty to secure that information,” SCDHHS Director Anthony Keck said in a release. “We are disappointed that one of our own would violate that trust and are deeply apologetic for not preventing the inappropriate release of this information.”
DHHS said Medicare numbers, which contain Social Security numbers, were linked to beneficiaries’ names in 22,064 of the cases.
Beneficiaries living in the following counties make up more than 90 percent of those affected by the breach: Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Lexington, Orangeburg and Richland.
Letters will be mailed to all affected beneficiaries. The department asked those persons to call 1-888-829-6561.
One free year of identity theft protection services through Experian’s ProtectMyID Alert will be provided by DHHS to affected Medicaid recipients.
Services include a free credit report, daily credit monitoring and a $1 million theft insurance policy.
Lykes was a member of the Lexington County Democratic Party's executive committe according to a SC Political Party Organization list.
The State reports that the party's chairwoman said he resigned from the position last month.
Department warns of scams
Department of Health and Human Services officials warn the public to be aware of scams and said it will never call or contact those affected asking for personal information.
Beneficiaries should never give their Social Security numbers or identifying information to people they haven’t personally contacted.
Resources for affected beneficiaries
The website, www.myscmedicaid.org, was created for affected beneficiaries. There they can find out more information the incident and about the identity theft services.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs can also help the public with general questions about potential identify theft. Call 1-800-922-1594 for more information.
Original: A former employee of the Department of Health and Human Services was arrested Thursday for transferring personal information of more than 228,000 state Medicare or Medicaid recipients, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.
Christopher Lykes, 36, of Swansea, was charged with five counts of Medically Indigent Act Confidentiality violations and one count of disclosure of confidential information.
Lykes’ arrest was the result of an investigation beginning on April 10 at the request of DHHS.
Between January and April, while still employed with the department officials say Lykes electronically transferred personal and confidential demographic information of people on Medicare or Medicaid.
The department’s information technology personnel found out about the transfer out data after a review of Lykes business email account prior to being fired for performance reasons.
On April 11, SLED agents took Lykes work and personal computer.
At least one other person received the data, according to officials.
Lykes is being detained at the Richland County Detention Center.