Ontario government employee among 2 arrested after COVID-19 vaccine system breach

An employee with Ontario's Ministry of Government and Consumer affairs who worked at its vaccine contact centre, and a man from Quebec have been arrested and charged for breaching the province's COVID-19 immunization system.

Men from Ottawa and Quebec charged with unauthorized use of a computer

A patch from an officer's uniform reading OPP.
Ontario Provincial Police arrested two men from Ottawa and Quebec for allegedly breaching the province's COVID-19 immunization system and sending people fraudulent texts to obtain personal information. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Police say they have arrested and charged men from Ottawa and Quebec who allegedly breached the province's COVID-19 immunization system to fish for personal information from people who recently booked an appointment. 

After executing two search warrants Monday and seizing several computers and laptops, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say they arrested the two men.

One of them, a 21-year-old who lives in Ottawa's Gloucester area, was an employee of the vaccine contact centre, part of the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, police said in a news release.

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

Both have been charged with unauthorized use of a computer. They were released from custody and are scheduled to appear in court at a later date.

OPP said they're still investigating how the two individuals know each other.

Spam texts linked to provincial booking system

Police say 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. 

Those "fraudulent spam" texts asked people for their personal information, said OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson. 

At a news conference 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.

Dickson said the investigation continues and he 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.