Phone users’ locations sold to jealous spouses

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Phone users’ locations sold to jealous spouses

A ring developed a program to track down individuals through the GPS functions of their smartphones and started selling the information to jealous spouses or people who were owed money.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said yesterday it arrested three men, including a broker surnamed Kim, 41, and an errand agency owner surnamed Yoon, 37, for purchasing and selling locations and other personal information of customers of SK Telecom and KT, the two largest mobile phone service providers.

Police also indicted five men who developed the program that extracts the information about the customers, including a man surnamed Seo, 36, who works for a subcontractor of SK and KT.

Seventy-five owners of errand agencies who used the program to check the location of people were also booked without detention, according to the police.

According to the police, five workers at the telecommunication companies’ subcontractor, including Seo, developed and managed a mobile service similar to the Find Friends application for SKT and KT. That gave them access to the locations of customers and other personal information held by the telecommunications companies.

They developed their own program to access the information without going through authentication procedures and started offering the program for sale.

A man surnamed Lee, 46, allegedly purchased the program from the developers and resold it to a simbureum center, or errand agency, which sometimes double as detective agencies, which are illegal in Korea.

A broker surnamed Kim is accused of purchasing personal information of mobile customers for 100,000 won ($89) to 300,000 won each time from Lee.

Yoon, the errand agency owner, sold information for 300,000 won to 500,000 won each time.

The police said that the errand agencies sold about 198,000 locations or other pieces of personal information of mobile customers from August to November of last year. Police said SKT and KT were unaware of the crimes until police told them.

The police said the information was used to track down people who owed money or to trap cheating spouses.

By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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