A contractor for the New South Wales (NSW) ambulance service – who sold paramedics’ workers comp files to a third party – has been convicted of “unlawful disclosure of personal information.”
The NSW contractor had apparently gained access to a list of injured paramedics that the government feared might sue for compensation. He “duped some of Sydney’s leading law firms” by selling the personal details of 130 injured paramedics, databreaches.net reported. The breaches reportedly occurred between 2013 and 2014.
According to abc.net, a group of injury attorneys paid thousands of dollars for the data, which contained “sensitive psychiatric assessments and details of serious injuries sustained by on-duty NSW paramedics.”
Investigators say the ambulance companies’ former injury management coordinator, Waqar Ahmad Malik, pocketed more than $200,000 in the scheme. The legal firms, that Malik reportedly shared the information with, were able to access the ‘potentially money-making list’ via paid membership to an “advisory panel”.
Attorney Charles Bannister says he made a $74,000 down payment to gain access to information that he thought was being supplied by the union representing paramedics. According to court documents, Malik showed Bannister a list which he claimed was the “back log of EMSPA (Emergency Medical Service Protection Assoc.) members that need legal representation that will be referred to the panel members.” Bannister says he became suspicious when the first few clients his firm called were not union members.
Mr. Bannister reported Malik to the NSW Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, The Daily Telegraph reported. Malik was sentenced to 100 hours of community service last September, and on appeal, his sentence was reduced to a one-year good behavior bond.
A former medic said he was “horrified” by the theft, but said the breach was not surprising.
“I have a number of members contacting me that have also had privacy issues with the service. Privacy is not necessarily a trusted part of the culture,” Steve McDowell said. McDowell belongs to a paramedic support group called ‘No More Neglect’.
Since the incident occurred, the Ambulance NSW has taken measures to prevent this from happening again, including improvements to case management practice for injury claims. They will also be coordinating all contractor engagement to the NSW Ambulance Risk and Safety Division internally.
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