Ontario government employee among two charged with COVID-19 vaccine portal security breach



TORONTO – A government employee is among two people charged following an investigation into a security breach related to Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination system.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said it was first asked to investigate the offense on November 17 after the government received reports of unwanted text messages received by people who had taken appointment or accessed vaccination certificates through the COVID-19 vaccination system.

The security breach was publicly confirmed on Monday, with the Solicitor General’s office telling CTV News Toronto that the reported texts were “financial in nature.”

CTV News Toronto spoke to two residents who received phishing text messages they believed could have been linked to the violation. Both messages were addressed to their children using their full names.

“What really started it for me was the spelling of her name. It was her last name, her full name with her middle name, and her middle name was all in all caps and the only time I got it. I’ve ever seen this was on her vaccination passport, ”Toronto resident Carla Embleton said.

Ottawa resident Mike Primeau said he received a similar text on his cell phone saying his son had received “a refund of $ 163.36” and was asked to respond to receive payment.

Primeau is the one who enrolled his entire family, including his son, for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Several other people said they had received text messages with either their full name or the full name of their children; however, the requests differed slightly.

In a press release on Tuesday, investigators said two search warrants, one in Quebec City and one in Ottawa, were executed on November 22 in connection with the security breach. Several devices, computers and laptops were seized.

Following the investigation, Ayoub Sayid, 21, a resident of Gloucester, and Rahim Abdu, 22, of Vaudreuil-Dorio, were taken into custody.

They were both charged with unauthorized use of a computer contrary to s. 342.1 (1) (c) of the Criminal Code.

Police said Sayid was an employee of the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services at the vaccine contact center.

The charges have not been proven in court.

The OPP warned that members of the public should always be wary of text messages asking for financial or private information. Anyone who suspects fraudulent activity should report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.



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