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Police arrest 22 suspects in ID theft ring

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-10 10:26

Police in Zhejiang province said they have detained 22 suspects who were accused of illegally obtaining and selling Apple users' personal data.

The suspects used an internal company computer system to gather users' names, phone numbers, Apple IDs and other data, which they then sold for 10 yuan ($1.50) to 180 yuan, said a statement from the public security authority of Cangnan county on Wednesday.

The total money involved was over 50 million yuan, it added.

Of the 22 detained suspects, 20 were employees of Apple's domestic direct sales and outsourcing companies in China, police said, though it was not clear if they were directly hired by Apple.

No comment from Apple was available by Friday.

Police in Cangnan started investigating the case in January, and caught all suspects in four provinces-Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian-on May 3.

They were detained on suspicion of infringing individuals' privacy and illegally obtaining their personal digital information.

Previous media reports said that the personal data could be abused for blackmail.

Police in Jiangsu province said last year that three suspects blackmailed an Apple user surnamed Zhao for 600 yuan after illegally acquiring Zhao's ID, threatening to make Zhao's iPhone useless if they didn't get the money. They also spent 800 yuan through Zhao's Apple ID for a mobile game, China Youth Daily reported. There were at least a dozen victims like Zhao.

China's Cyber Security Law came into effect on June 1, stating that people's personal information is under protection by law. According to the Criminal Law and its judicial interpretations, people who illegally obtain and sell 50 or more pieces of personal information can be fined and jailed for up to seven years.

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