vaccine passport scam

Someone is posing as Public Health Ontario and sending fake vaccine passport emails

Scammers have, of course, found countless new ways to exploit people during the pandemic, whether it be tricking them into installing malicious COVID-related apps, duping them into buying phony or non-existent COVID tests or vaccines, or screwing the government over for COVID benefits using other people's identities.

The latest fraud in Ontario is one related to a very hot issue: vaccine passports, which the provincial government only just confirmed last week are indeed being implemented later this month.

Some residents have now reported receiving an email in recent days that appears to be from Public Health Ontario, and even includes the organization's logo at the top.

Based on a copy obtained by CTV News, the letter reiterates the fact that eligible citizens will, as of Sept. 22, need to provide proof that they have received two doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 inoculation at least 14 days prior to entering certain indoor settings such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and more.

After outlining the basics, the communication then provides a link where recipients can apparently get more information on "how to obtain [their] vaccine passport and guidelines to follow." The link reads as one to an actual PHO page, but when hovered over, it becomes clear that it leads to a fraudulent website.

PHO acknowledged the fraud in an email to blogTO, confirming that the emails are from someone impersonating the Crown agency and are about vaccine passport registration. This is not yet possible in the province, which won't be rolling out a QR code system until late October. 

In the interim, the physical or digital proof already provided by the Ministry of Health after immunization appointments will be used.

"We can confirm that PHO did not send the emails and has no knowledge of where they originated from. Further, PHO has no role in the provincial government’s vaccine certificate program," a representative said.

"For any questions about the vaccine certificate program, we would suggest that they be directed to the provincial government."

The federal government has now added potential counterfeit vaccine passports and questionable offers pertaining to vaccine passports to its list of known COVID-19 scams.

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