Police arrest ride service spammers

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Police arrest ride service spammers

Prosecutors arrested suspects who sold thousands of phone numbers to chauffeur service agencies that have sent countless spam messages to millions of Korean drivers.

The Seoul Central Prosecutors Office said yesterday that they have indicted a 44-year-old broker surnamed Lim with detention for selling 7.6 million Korean drivers’ personal information, including resident registration numbers and mobile phone numbers, to private chauffeur service agencies. The chauffeur agencies send drivers to take intoxicated individuals home by driving their cars for a service charge.

The prosecution indicted seven owners of the service agencies, including a 54-year-old surnamed Oh, without detention for illegally purchasing and selling private information.

The prosecutors said that the broker Lim purchased the information from a 40-year-old hacker surnamed Bae who lives in the Philippines. In January 2010, Bae penetrated the server of a private agency and hacked into 26 million Korean drivers’ personal information.

The prosecutors said the number is actually closer to 7.6 million if they exclude overlapped numbers. The number is 56.3 percent of the country’s driving population, excluding truck and motorcycle drivers (13.6 million as of 2010). The prosecutors said Bae also hacked into a dozen private lenders’ information and obtained 5,400 Korean resident registration numbers and phone numbers.

Lim sold the numbers to the chauffeur service agency owner Oh for 13 million won ($11,531), and this phone number list has been distributed among other agency owners in the last two years.

Another agency owner surnamed Goh purchased this list for 5 million won, and sold a copy of the list to another agency owner surnamed Song for 3 million won in February last year.

Song sold the list to three other agency owners for 3 million won each. The prosecutors said these agencies then sent spam text messages to the numbers on their list.

The prosecutors said the hacker is also suspected of hacking the web master’s account of the official Web site of the Korean Dental Association that has about 26,000 dentists’ personal information, but the motive of the hacking is unknown.

The hacker fled to the Philippines in January when the prosecutors launched the investigation.

The prosecution will cooperate with Interpol in order to capture the hacker.

By Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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