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August 30, 2012

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Gang sold 200 million bits of personal data

SHANGHAI police said yesterday that they busted a criminal ring that sold personal information to businesses.

Police have detained 48 suspects after an investigation that started in March and found nearly 200 million pieces of personal information, such as cell phone numbers and home addresses, in suspects' computers, according to the Shanghai Economic Crime Investigation Corps.

One of the suspects, surnamed Zhang, took advantage of his job at the Shanghai Health Bureau and sold the personal information of newborn babies, police said. Information leaks also were found at insurance companies, police said.

"We found that many companies have loopholes in administration and protection of personal information, which should be fixed immediately," said Yu Song, an officer from Zhabei District police.

The case emerged in March when five employees of a data company were detained for selling and purchasing personal information, police said.

The police caught 48 more suspects since then. The police said they followed the chain and finally found sources like Zhang, who was in charge of the maintenance of the database of the Shanghai Health Bureau.

Zhang was detained in April. He confessed that since the beginning of 2011, he logged into the database twice a month to download the information of newborn babies and then sold nearly 100,000 pieces of information to one of the major suspects, surnamed Li, for 30,000 yuan (US$4,723).

Similar cases were also found in the insurance industry and online recruiting. Detained were six insurance company employees surnamed Song, Chen, Yan, Peng, Xiang and Zhu and another man surnamed Tang who posted false recruiting information on the Internet and illegally gained thousands of pieces of personal information.

By this month, all the suspects had been sent to prosecutors, police said.

Meanwhile, Shanghai police also nabbed another gang of five who purchased personal information via the Internet and used the information to steal money from the victims' credit cards through online transactions.

Police said they reported in April that more than 30 cardholders had losses on their credit cards and the total amount reached more than 2 million yuan.

On June 15, three suspects were caught at their homes on Hailun and Dalian roads in Hongkou District. Detectives found a network selling personal data and teaching how to commit credit card crime. Police detained the other two from outside the city this month.


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