The suspected mastermind behind a large online theft from a Chinese bank was arrested after eight months on the run.
Police in Guiyang, the capital of southwest China’s Guizhou Province, arrested Song Chenglin, a 23-year-old Harbin college student. He is accused of stealing 770,000 yuan (US$93,000) by hacking into accounts at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).
Song was caught on September 20 and handed over to police in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province in northeast China, two days later.
At the beginning of this year, Song opened an account at the ICBC with a forged identity card. On January 7, working from an Internet cafe in Harbin, he hacked into ICBC's online banking system and accessed 158 accounts.
He told his roommate Lu Guoxing and together the pair transferred the 770,000 yuan to Song's new account.
Song then told two other classmates, who are believed to have once assisted Song financially. Song is from a poor family in Zunyi, Guizhou Province.
The next day, the four went separately to 10 branches of ICBC and withdrew 530,000 yuan (US$63,900) in total.
Song skimmed the odd 30,000 yuan (US$3,600) off the top of their haul, and then the four friends divided the remaining 500,000 yuan (US$60,300) between them.
Song fled to Guizhou on the same day, but rather than returning to his hometown he rented a house in suburban Guiyang.
His three accomplices were caught soon after the bank examined the unusual transactions and identified them through surveillance cameras.
Lu Guoxing, Bu Yijun and Zhang Yulong have already been tried and sentenced to prison terms of 12, 13 and 10 years, respectively.
Experts warn that a security loophole in online banking systems may cause huge losses.
(China Daily October 8, 2004)