The B.C. Ministry of Health is investigating the case of a North Vancouver woman whose CareCard was stolen and fraudulently used to obtain prescriptions.

Sharla Keizer’s CareCard was stolen from her wallet along with other cards and money last July.

Months after reporting the theft to police and Health Insurance BC, she discovered somebody used it to obtain 19 different prescriptions for hundreds of sleeping pills under her name.

“With my pregnancy I’ve been having insomnia, so my doctor prescribed a very low dose of Ativan,” she said. “When I had that filled, the pharmacist said ‘Well, you know how this works.’”

But Keizer had never used the sleeping aid and was shocked when the pharmacist showed her a record that indicated otherwise.

“I didn’t think it would be this kind of a nightmare,” she said.

Keizer was later told she could add a password to her account for extra security, something she and her pharmacist had never heard of before.

Health Insurance BC can flag an account to request secondary identification, but a password must be set up with a pharmacist.  

B.C. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said the government is aware of CareCard fraud, but hadn’t heard of someone obtaining multiple prescriptions before. She confirmed that the ministry is currently investigating Keizer’s case.

Meanwhile, MacDiarmid said the new BC Services Card, scheduled to come out in mid-February, will replace old CareCards with new, multi-use cards that will have anti-fraud features including a photo. British Columbians will receive the card when they would regularly renew their driver’s license.

But Keizer warned against waiting for the new card.

“It’ll take five years for the new card to be in place for everybody,” she said. “In the meantime I would suggest everybody go put a password on their CareCard right now if you’ve ever had your wallet stolen or lost.”

Keizer is in the process of trying to get the card thief’s prescriptions removed from her account history.

In the last year, the B.C. Health Ministry has investigated 452 cases involving CareCard misuse. Of those, 319 accounts were closed because they were being used by people no longer eligible to have a card because of residency requirements. More than 100 cases resulted in eligibility being verified, and 14 cases had a fraud component and were referred to police.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Maria Weisgarber