Five people have been arrested and charged with computer fraud in a scheme to electronically transfer more than $30,000 from the payroll of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville to personal checking accounts at several banks, a U.S. Secret Service spokesman said yesterday.

The two women and three men--one of whom was employed at HHS as a computer program analyst--were arrested last weekend at their Washington and suburban Maryland homes by Secret Service agents, with the cooperation of police in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Officials said between $30,000 and $40,000 in salary intended for Public Health Service doctors was diverted from the March and April payroll tapes. The money was deposited electronically in four Maryland banks and into the personal accounts of the five people arrested, the Secret Service said.

The illegal transfers, which ranged between $2,000 and $15,000 each, were detected when doctors who had not received their paychecks began to complain, according to Secret Service spokesman Paul Buskirk.

Those arrested were James E. Grove, 35, of 3360 Huntley Square Run, Temple Hills, a computer program analyst at HHS; Henry G. Wood, 31, of 3042 Monroe St. NE, a maintenance man for a D.C. landscaping firm; Joseph F. Washington, 38, of 5701 Fisher Rd., Temple Hills, an electrician's helper; Casandra D. Olds, 24, of 3969 Warner Ave., Landover, a data technician at a Silver Spring computer firm and Predia D. Dyson, 21, of 3423 Eastern Ave., Mount Ranier.

At the time of the arrests, numerous withdrawals had been made from the illegal accounts, Buskirk said.

The five were charged by the U.S. Secret Service with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Washington, Olds, and Dyson were released on personal bond. Grove was released after posting a $20,000 cash bond and Wood was held in Prince George's County Jail in Hyattsville on a $25,000 cash bond, officials said.