MONTREAL -- Quebec provincial police have arrested three Montreal men they say are behind a widespread identity theft operation that stole personal information from scores of Quebec teachers and education workers.

The three men were arrested on Friday: Frédéric Lapointe, 41, Rath Pak, 41, and Jimmy Saintelien, 39.

In February, Quebec's education minister revealed that the personal data of as many as 360,000 teachers and ex-teachers was exposed to hackers. The reliability of the government's computer systems was not called into question, it was said, since the theft was allegedly committed using an access code and a password.

Quebec provincial police began investigating reports of identity theft involving teachers throughout the province back in April 2018.

The men who were arrested on Friday had been investigated in 2019, and two of them were approached as 'persons of interest', but no charges were laid, said Surete du Quebec spokesperson Louis-Philippe Bibeau.

On Friday, the men were arrested “in connection with identity theft, fraud, possession of forged documents, unauthorized use of data relating to a credit card and the unauthorized use of a computer committed in the spring of 2018 in several regions of Quebec,” an SQ news release reads.

The SQ said that the personal information (name, date of birth, social insurance number) of hundreds of people working in the field of education had been reported to the authorities.

- With files from The Canadian Press