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May 7, 2011

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6 held over theft of personal info

SIX people have been detained in connection with stealing, selling and publishing online the personal details of 3,600 local residents, police said yesterday.

Officers said that details - including names, addresses and phone numbers - of residents from 14 well-known residential complexes changed hands six times before finally being posted on Baidu Wenku, China's biggest online file-sharing platform.

Police alleged that a man surnamed Chen, 22, an employee of the sales department of a local commercial plaza, is responsible for publishing the information.

Chen told police he posted the information to exchange with friends in sales and also to upgrade his membership level on Baidu, China's biggest search engine.

He said he bought the information from a man surnamed Yang.

Following the chain, on April 20 police detained the person they claim is the source of the details, a saleswoman at a residential complex in the Pudong New Area.

The woman, surnamed Zhang, said a man, surnamed Liu, working in the decoration industry, asked in March whether he could buy personal details of real estate owners.

Zhang, who thought it could earn her some cash, took advantage of her position to steal information on some property owners, police alleged.

She entrusted a friend to sell the information to Liu for 6,000 yuan (US$923) in a bid to avoid being linked with the crime herself, police said.

Liu then sold some information to an employee, surnamed Xin, of a local decoration periodical.

In turn, Xin sold it to a man, surnamed Zhao, who has previously been jailed for acquiring citizens' personal information.

Zhao then sold the information to Yang, the owner of a private construction and decoration company, according to police.

The information appeared online in March and could be downloaded free.

"I get cold calls almost every day and they seem to know me very well - sometimes even knowing my parents' names," said a woman living in Juyuan residential complex at Lane 366, Pucheng Road in Pudong. "I don't feel secure."

Most calls come from real estate agencies and insurance companies, said the woman, who asked not to be named.


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