Cops crack down on personal data trade

By Chen Xiaoru Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-23 22:58:01

Shanghai police have arrested 403 suspects since May involved in the trade of more than 1 billion pieces of personal information as part of a campaign against online crime, police said at a press conference Monday.

The campaign has been in response to what police acknowledged was an increase in illegal information trading, which has helped facilitate other online crimes, including theft and fraud, said Liu Li, a senior official from the Shanghai Public Security Bureau's cyber division.

The criminals who trade in personal information usually obtain it from three sources, police said. It is stolen by hackers, sold by company employees or leaked by third parties that maintain personal information databases on behalf of companies or organizations.

In one typical case, Zhabei district police broke up a group of 10 suspects who traded more than 1 million pieces of student information leaked from a national examination website. Police refused to name which website.

The information was leaked by an employee of a company that maintains the database for the website, said Yu Xingbo, the vice bureau chief of the Zhabei District Public Security Bureau.

In August, district police received a report from a woman who complained that she had started to receive text messages that advertised educational institutions right after she entered her information into the website, according to a Zhabei police official. Investigators found that similar spam texts had been sent to other people who had applied for the exam on the website.

Police identified a suspect surnamed Xu, who had been posting messages online that were similar to those in the spam texts. They arrested Xu and learned that he was also responsible for sending the text messages. He admitted that he had purchased the personal information of people who had registered on the website from a middleman. Xu said he used the information to sign up about 400 students for classes at several private educational institutions.

Police then began investigating the middleman, who is also surnamed Xu. The middleman told police that he bought the information from a man surnamed Yang, whose job was to maintain a database of applicants for a national examination website in Beijing.

Yang made more than 200,000 yuan ($32,940) selling the information to Xu and two other dealers, police said. The middleman Xu made about 120,000 yuan reselling the data to his own customers.

Police have arrested four suspects, who are awaiting charges for the illegal provision and acquisition of personal information.

Posted in: Society, Metro Shanghai

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