Bangkok-based hacker detained by Shanghai cops

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An online hacker and reportedly the leader of a five-member gang who defrauded online users of over 30 million yuan (US$4.9 million) was detained in Bangkok and brought back to Shanghai on August 19, local police said.


The 24-year-old, surnamed Wang, operated from the Thai capital and was the last remaining member of the gang who had avoided capture.

More than 2,000 Internet users in the country were victims of the gang’s insidious alliance. Police recovered a little over 3 million yuan from them.

Police learnt of the scam last year when online consumers reported that their payments for the e-commerce portal were transferred to game accounts of the Giant Interactive Group Inc on November 11.

Police cleared Giant Interactive of any wrongdoing.

On January 2, a netizen, surnamed Li, said he found that all the money in his bank account was transferred to the gaming company after he bought a railway ticket online.

During investigation, police discovered that many online shoppers had lost their money since October after they tried to conduct business online like buying railway or air tickets, topping up their mobile phones or shopping at online stores.

All the bank deposits would be transferred into the gaming accounts which would then used to buy game cards and virtual currency or other game items, making it difficult for the police to trace the money.

Previously, police said, an online user only lost the money that dealt with a particular transaction but in later cases most of the money from their bank account went missing.

Police checked Li’s computer and found it had a new type of trojan horse malware in it. The hacking program would transfer any online payments to gang’s accounts.

Served time in prison

Wang was a known hand in online operations. He served a 14-month jail sentence in 2010 for hacking into the server of Shanghai’s online car plate auction in 2009, which eventually led to the cancellation of the auction.

After serving time, Wang went to Thailand and continued to work as a hacker.

He organized a gang of five — none of whom knew each other — and developed new trojan horse programs. He also involved money launderers who were responsible for selling virtual items. Wang himself worked as the leader of the gang, making plans and assigning tasks to other gang members.

Before Wang got his hands on the money, it would pass through three or four transactions. The scammed money would first be used to buy virtual currency and items, which were then exchanged for game cards and mobile top-up cards. These non-currency assets were eventually cashed in Thai baht in Wang’s account in Bangkok.

Wang never made it to high school, having only gone to a vocational school.

It was the first time Shanghai’s Internet police approached Interpol to carry out the arrest.

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