‘Ottawa’ Quebecer Charged in PC Plus Breach, Collectors urged to Fortify Password
Ottawa police have confirmed that a Laval, Que., man is alleged to be behind a scam that involves stealing shoppers’ PC Plus points from their accounts.
Police say 21-year-old Ferradji Manigat was arrested on Jan. 21 and charged with fraud under $5,000 and money laundering after security at the Loblaws store on Isabella Street caught him trying to buy hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards using stolen PC Plus points.
Staff Sgt. Stephanie Burns of the Ottawa police fraud unit said that while one suspect was arrested, police believe there are likely many fraudsters involved in a much larger scam.
“As a general rule the person who goes into the store and commits the fraud with stolen credit cards and what have you is not working by himself or herself,” said Burns, who suggested people change passwords every three months. “Normally they are part of a group.”
The theft was reported in January before the supermarket chain started alerting its 10 million PC Plus members that the rewards system has been the target of fraud.
Loblaw believes the frauds stem from people using favourite or weak username and password combinations across multiple sites. Shortly after, the company posted a warning on its website saying it required all members to create new passwords — regardless of whether or not they changed them following the recent security breach.
“We are treating this as a breach as individual member accounts were accessed and points were stolen,” said Kevin Groh, the company’s vice-president of corporate affairs and communication, in a statement.