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Maniilaq supervisor arrested in identity theft scheme

Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The business supervisor at the Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue has been arrested in connection with a credit card scheme.

Barbara Helm is accused of identity theft and making thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases over the Internet.

A Philadelphia woman tipped Kotzebue police off to the scheme in October after learning that someone was using her name and credit card to buy a computer over the Internet. The computer company provided police with a Kotzebue address.

Further investigation turned up a long trail of aliases, stolen social security numbers and credit card fraud that led to Helm, according to authorities. They said Helm used the stolen information to make Internet purchases and to obtain further credit, APRN reported.

Police sealed Maniilaq's business office last week. Helm was arrested Monday and arraigned Tuesday on seven counts, including fraud, forgery, criminal use of a computer and criminal impersonation. Five of the counts are felonies.

The progression of events is listed in charging documents submitted Tuesday in state district court in Kotzebue.

Helm, who has been charged under the name Jane Doe, used as many as 17 aliases and six social security numbers to make Internet purchases and to obtain further credit from various financial institutions. Her purchases ranged from airline tickets and office furniture to computer equipment.

Kotzebue police received help from fraud investigators at a number of banks that issued credit cards to Helm under some of her aliases.

Investigators with First USA Bank reported purchases totaling more than $20,000 on one card alone. Citibank investigators reported that Helm had used the maiden name of the Philadelphia woman's mother and two different social security numbers to obtain credit.

Helm used two post office boxes in Kotzebue as addresses and postal inspectors pointed police to Helm, who was being held at the Kotzebue regional jail on $100,000 bail.

Helm used four birth dates that put her at about 50 years of age, according to court documents.

Maniilaq president Helen Bolen said the health center is conducting an internal investigation in response to the charges against Helm. The alleged fraud is limited to personal credit cards and there is no evidence Helm used confidential patient information, Bolen said.



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