A New Orleans woman was jailed Friday after being on the run for months.
Juana Peters was wanted for computer fraud after one dentist said thousands of patient records were compromised.
Peters is charged with two counts of computer fraud and eight counts of forgery.
On Thursday, authorities picked her up on a warrant from October 2012. The crimes she is accused of committing occurred in a dental office on Veterans Boulevard.
“The more we dig, the deeper we get. It seems to be a huge pattern,” said Dr. Lisa Wyatt, a dentist.
Wyatt said she hired Juana Peters as an office manager and Peters worked there for four months after a recommendation from a software trainer.
“She was very knowledgeable about computers. But we didn’t put it together. The FBI had to tell us. We didn’t understand it ourselves,” said Wyatt.
Wyatt noticed money was missing, but it wasn’t until one of her patients got a call from the FBI that she realized what was happening and contacted the FBI and state police.
“They came over and we found out that a patient list had been printed up from all the patients in my office. And there was also a handwritten list in her handwriting with her daughter’s name and email at the bottom,” said Wyatt. “It had specific patients that had been targeted and every one of those patients had been a victim of identity theft.”
Wyatt said patients’ identities were used to set up credit card accounts and get fake IDs.
Authorities said they’ve linked Peters to a local identity theft ring. According to Louisiana State police, detectives were executing a search warrant in an unrelated case and found paperwork that led to an investigation and Peter’s arrest Thursday.
Wyatt sent out a letter to patients asking them to contact authorities if their identities were compromised.
She felt betrayed, she said.
“When you hurt your patients, these are people you love, care about and have a relationship with for years. For her to come in and do this to these people, it’s horrifying,” said Wyatt.
WDSU searched police records dating back nearly 20 years and found this isn’t Peters’ first brush with the law.
In 1996 she was arrested at a Dorignacs in Metairie, accused of trying to cash a stolen check. When officers picked her up, they said she had different IDs with multiple addresses and a different Social Security number.
As the investigation into the stolen identities has unfolded Wyatt said she is learning new information about Peters.
“We found out she had worked at a different doctor’s office, that she said she never worked at, but she did. And I talked to that doctor and he confirmed that she had stolen from him,” said Wyatt.
Wyatt said Peters left before Wyatt had a chance to fire her.
“She told us she had lung cancer and had to go get treatment in California and left,” said Wyatt.
The investigation is still ongoing. Peters is being held on $840,000 bond.
Anyone with information that could help authorities in this case are urged to contact police.
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