Two men arrested after COVID-19 vaccine system breach

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Police have arrested and charged men from Ottawa and Quebec who allegedly breached the province’s COVID-19 immunization system to gain access to personal information from individuals who recently booked an appointment. 

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) executed two search warrants Monday and seized several computers and laptops. One of them, a 21-year-old who lives in Ottawa’s Gloucester neighbourhood, was an employee of the vaccine contact centre, part of the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

The other was a 22-year-old man from Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que. 

Both individuals are charged with unauthorized use of a computer and the OPP are still investigating how they know each other. They were released from custody and are scheduled to appear in court at a later date.

Spam texts linked to provincial booking system

The provincial government received reports of spam text messages from several individuals who had scheduled their vaccine appointments, or accessed their vaccine certificates, through the provincial booking system. 

The “fraudulent spam” texts asked people for their personal information, said OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson. 

On Monday, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the province is “thoroughly” investigating any “potential” breaches, and to the best of her knowledge, no one has been scammed out of any money.

“We have confidence in the booking system right now,” she said.

The investigation continues but Dickson couldn’t confirm if anyone was scammed through the breach.

He warned people to be suspicious of any texts or emails asking for financial or private information, and to alert the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.