Police investigate 10 Koreans over identity theftAfter stolen resident identification numbers were used to create accounts for an online computer game called Lineage, police reasoned that negligence in preventing a crime is just as bad as the crime itself.
The National Police Agency said yesterday that it has discovered how the identification data of 280,000 persons were stolen, and that it will officially begin investigations on 10 people involved in the theft.
Although at the beginning of the investigation police thought most of the stolen identities had been used to set up accounts from China, they found that many were being used by thieves here as well. Police said that two people will be questioned for selling the accounts; seven other people will be investigated for operating businesses in which they hired game-players to go online with stolen identities.
In addition, a senior executive at NCsoft, the developer and publisher of the Lineage game, will be investigated on charges of inaction despite knowing of the identity thefts and how those identities were being used.
According to police, the people who “leaked” people’s personal information were employees at companies that had databases of consumer information. One person worked at an automobile service center; another worked at a credit information firm. Police said that these people sold lists of people’s resident registration numbers to people who operated “game rooms.”
The seven gameroom operators reportedly hired about 100 part-time game players and made about 14.2 billion won ($15 million) in offline profits by selling cyber items obtained in the process of game-playing. Such items usually take long hours of play and a certain degree of luck. They are sold over Web sites to players for “real” money.
In the case of the NCsoft senior executive, authorities said that he is responsible because he knew that accounts were being created from stolen identities but did not do anything because he feared that the company’s sales would go down.
Police said that an additional 900,000 stolen accounts have not yet been traced but that they suspect the accounts are being used at similar gaming operations in China and have requested cooperation of Chinese authorities.
Meanwhile, NCsoft said that the people who operated the game rooms didn’t make profits for the company but rather disrupted its business. “The problem of personal information theft and leakage is a problem that can happen to any Internet service provider,” it argued in a statement.
by Wohn Dong-hee
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