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This file photo shows CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga.

If you want to avoid getting scammed for a couple of hundred bucks, or worse, you might want to be careful who you let into your workplace, even if they look like they're supposed to be there.

A handful of people at Memorial Hospital learned that the hard way last month after Crystal Hughley, 33, allegedly dressed as an employee, walked into a restricted area and stole credit cards from the break room, according to court documents.

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Crystal Hughley

Hughley is a former employee of Memorial and she wore a name badge with her name on it to avoid raising suspicion at the hospital on DeSales Avenue. She gained access to the breakroom by telling an employee that her access code wasn't working.

The victims realized something was wrong a short while later when they were notified someone had made several purchases with their credit cards at area clothing stores totaling several hundred dollars.

Investigators found Hughley went to Memorial North Park two days later and committed the exact same crime, convincing an employee to let her into the breakroom, stealing a credit card and then using that card to purchase a Playstation at Walmart.

Karen Long, a spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital, confirmed Thursday that Hughley was a former employee of Memorial and said "protocol is to collect and deactivate badges when employment ends."

More recently, employees at Parkridge Hospital posted on Facebook this week concerning a similar theft at their hospital. Jamie Lawson, a spokesman for Parkridge, confirmed there was an incident on Sunday, but did not say whether Hughley was the suspect in that case.

"It came to our attention that an unauthorized person or persons not employed by Parkridge Health System managed to gain access to some employee-only areas at our Parkridge East Hospital and Parkridge Medical Center facilities," he wrote in an emailed statement. "Some employees' personal items subsequently went missing after this discovery. Patients and visitors were not affected in any way."

"In response to this, Parkridge Health System has reviewed its security protocols and developed additional staff education on how non-employees are provided access to staff-only areas of the facilities."

Hughley wouldn't be the first person to impersonate a hospital employee in order to steal. In 2015, Ryan Epperson, 26, was caught wandering around Erlanger hospital in scrubs, carrying six vials of the painkiller Demerol in his pocket. Police also found a large bag of narcotics in his truck.

Epperson was charged with six counts of drugs for resale, two counts of vandalism, two counts of theft and one count of criminal trespassing. He also was charged with impersonation of a licensed professional, a crime that Hughley has also been accused of.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.

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