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Data theft | An important minister of the Legault government targeted

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The credit file of an important minister of the Legault government was hacked by fraudsters who tried to sell his banking information in dark corners of the web, learned The Press. The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) has launched an investigation into this file.

According to our information, a cybercriminal who is very active in data theft put the Minister’s TransUnion credit file up for sale around December 30. It’s unclear whether it found a buyer, but copies of the document have been circulating on at least four chat rooms on crypto exchange Telegram over the past few days.

This theft has raised serious concerns for the safety of the Minister and his family. We preserve the exact identity of the Minister, who is here the victim of a crime and who would not have been negligent in the protection of his data according to our information, in order to avoid causing him harm.

Even though the hacker put the data up for sale almost two months ago, the minister only learned in the last few days that his personal information had been stolen. The hacked credit file contains in particular the name, the address and the obligations of the borrower towards his various creditors.

The elected member of the Coalition avenir Québec had suspicions from the moment strangers tried to reach him in different ways. Research has been done to determine the identity of these people. These checks led to the discovery of the data theft.

The minister filed a complaint with the police. The SQ has launched an investigation in the past few days and is carrying out checks in this case.

The person behind this information theft is involved in “all sorts of schemes” and is in the crosshairs of several cybersecurity experts, according to a source familiar with The Press. She is part of a list of individuals “to be unmasked” and is suspected of having committed several bank frauds under a false identity.

Widespread fraud

The type of fraud suffered by a member of the Legault government is very widespread. “It’s not very complex, in today’s world, to harm someone if you are resourceful and have access to some personal information”, underlines Éric Lessard, investigator specializing in security some information.

All experts consulted by The Press confirm that it is enough to have some basic data on hand, including name and date of birth, to make credit report requests on behalf of a third party. This credit report can then be used by fraudsters to obtain cards or lines of credit, for example.

It is not clear at this stage if the minister of the Coalition avenir Québec was targeted at random, or if the criminal behind the operation was seeking to exploit his elected status to maximize the profits that could have resulted from the sale of his personal information. It is also not known at this time whether the minister in question has been the victim of other attempts at fraud at the same time.

It’s relatively minor, but is it the tree that hides the forest?

Paul Laurier, president of the cyber investigation firm Vigiteck and ex-policeman of the SQ and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

“Have there been other attempts before? Has this minister been the target of blackmail before? If that person is blackmailed, they become vulnerable. The government she works for is vulnerable too. »

Sébastien Gambs, professor in the computer science department of the University of Quebec in Montreal, does not believe that this fraud has, at first sight, political aims. “I don’t think there’s anything to blackmail a minister. The main risk is that of damage to reputation. »

The hypothesis of a targeted action against an elected official cannot however be ruled out, according to Philippe Chevalier, president and co-founder of the private investigation agency SARX, specializing in cybercrime. The individual who stole – and then put on sale – the minister’s data could have “ideological” motivations, he underlines.

“If a malicious group has the credit file or any confidential and personal information concerning a minister, the objective is to create a spectacular effect, to annoy, to make people tremble, and the simple use of the word “darknet” contributes to this effect,” says Mr. Chevalier.

TransUnion declined to comment on a specific case of data theft, citing privacy concerns. Through a public relations firm, the American credit-scoring firm claimed that it was deploying “multiple layers of security” to tackle fraud and other cyberattacks.

With Daniel Renaud

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