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April 6, 2012

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Three who hacked airline's website, dealt tickets jailed

THREE people who hacked into China Eastern Airlines' ticketing website and defrauded the company of more than 2 million yuan (US$316,996) by issuing thousands of tickets were given stiff prison sentences yesterday.

The chief culprit, Chen Jun, 27, was sentenced to 11 1/2 years in prison for fraud while his two accomplices, Yao Zhen and Li Chao, were jailed for 8 1/2 years each in Changning District People's Court. The trio, from Henan Province, also received fines totaling 400,000 yuan.

Prosecutors said Chen obtained a first-grade agent account and its password for the airline's ticket sales website from a friend online, with which he could purchase and sell air tickets and be awarded rebates of 3 to 10 percent by China Eastern.

Chen called his two friends, Yao and Li, to run the business together in a rented apartment in Guangzhou, capital of southern China's Guangdong Province. But the normal and legal agent business was altered one day in April last year when Chen logged into the website as usual yet accidentally found an administrator account. Chen broke the password of the administrator account and entered the airline company's system where he discovered more administrator accounts.

"The administrator accounts must have wider access to the system. I could not help but want to see what kind of permission and privileges they had," Chen said.

Prosecutors said Chen tested the stolen accounts one after another and finally cracked the codes of six administrator accounts. It made the hacker more excited when he found one of them could be used to change the rebate ratio for agent accounts, the court heard.

"Greed engulfed my mind when I found I could change the rebate ratio at my own will, which meant I could make more margins," Chen told the court.

Using this administrator account, Chen opened 10 agent accounts, reset their rebate ratios at 40 to 70 percent and collected more than 2 million yuan by buying and selling more than 3,300 air tickets, prosecutors said.


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