VANCOUVER Police announced on Monday that a man has been arrested following an investigation into his use of patient profile information that was used for fraudulent purposes.
In February, the Vancouver Police Department’s Identity Theft Unit was notified that someone was fraudulently using information obtained through the B.C. Government’s PharmaNet system. As a result of that information, the Identity Theft Unit launched an investigation into the allegations with investigative members of the Ministry of Finance. Information gathered confirmed that the suspect gained unauthorized access to the PharmaNet system and gathered patient’s personal data. That information was then used for fraudulent purposes.
On March 23, Vancouver Police investigators executed a search warrant at a residence in Richmond. One man has been arrested and is currently facing a number of identity theft related charges. Charges have not yet been laid.
The investigation is ongoing.
MEANWHILE, the provincial government in a press statement said it had learned new information about the PharmaNet privacy incidents as a result of the investigative work jointly undertaken by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and the ministries of Health, Finance, and Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services.
The breaches are alleged to be a result of cybercrime, which targeted physicians’ and medical clinic offices, and PharmaNet service vendors. It is suspected that access was obtained through impersonation of physicians and other methods.
Referring to the arrest made by Vancouver Police in the case, the government said that to ensure the integrity of the ongoing investigation, it is unable to share any further details at this time.
The investigation has identified approximately 13,000 new individuals who may have had their PharmaNet profile and / or medication history viewed inappropriately. This is in addition to the approximately 7,500 that were identified earlier this year.
In order to mitigate the risk of fraud and identity theft, government is offering credit monitoring at no cost to all affected individuals. The Ministry of Health is contacting all affected individuals by letter to inform them of the incidents and provide instructions on how to access credit monitoring. Individuals are encouraged to wait for a letter, rather than calling Health Insurance BC. As the investigation is ongoing, additional exposures may become known; in that case, government will complete additional notifications as necessary.
The ministries of Health, Finance, and Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services have undertaken a significant amount of work since discovering these incidents. These actions include containing all known PharmaNet incidents, shutting down affected accounts, and disabling accounts that have been inactive for more than 30 days.
The Ministry of Health is implementing more robust security measures with PharmaNet vendors and is installing cautionary banners that stress the legislative requirements for using PharmaNet upon signing in.
A letter was sent to health-care practitioners affected by the breach, advising them of the issue and security measures they can take to prevent unauthorized access. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has been notified of all incidents and regular updates are being provided to that office.