Fraud attempts force Quebec's provincial park agency to pause sale of discount passes

·2 min read
Hikers look out from a camping platform on top of Mont Chauve in Mont-Orford provincial park. (Paul Dussault - image credit)
Hikers look out from a camping platform on top of Mont Chauve in Mont-Orford provincial park. (Paul Dussault - image credit)

Quebec's provincial parks agency (SEPAQ) was forced to shut down online sales of discounted annual season's passes Tuesday morning, after a banking institution flagged several fraud attempts.

A limited number of Bonjour Québec passes, 140,000 in total, were available for half price as of 9 a.m. but were suddenly taken offline as tens of thousands of people waited in a digital queue.

The passes give access to all of Quebec's provincial parks and usually cost just over $80. Discounted park passes were a big hit last year due to travel restrictions and this year, the province is once again encouraging Quebecers to explore closer to home.

"A little before 11 [a.m.] we decided to suspend pass sales," said Simon Boivin, a spokesperson for the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec. "A banking institution noticed fraud attempts and the [security] measures taken at that time meant some credit cards were no longer being accepted by the reservation system."

SEPAQ sent a message to people waiting online to buy discounted season's passes, saying its reservation system was temporarily shut down due to suspected fraud.
SEPAQ sent a message to people waiting online to buy discounted season's passes, saying its reservation system was temporarily shut down due to suspected fraud.(Radio-Canada)

SEPAQ wouldn't confirm which type of cards were targeted or which financial institution brought the issue to its attention but it said no personal data or card information was compromised.

Boivin said SEPAQ did its best to maintain people's priority in line and to make sure everyone who was waiting had a fair chance to purchase tickets.

Despite the setback, more than 50 per cent of the available passes were still sold this morning. Sales started began again shortly after 3:30 p.m. with an estimated 37,500 left at that time. By 5 p.m., the passes were sold out.

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