Gone in minutes: Chinese cybertheft gangs mine smartphones for bank card data

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 6:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 6:00am

Gangs of online cyberthieves need just minutes to steal the pin numbers of thousands of bank cards for later sale in underground online markets, state-run CCTV reported on Sunday.

The gangs also dealt in ID and telephone numbers and sold the information through instant messenger groups, the report said.

One 60-year-old victim identified only as “Wu” said he lost 49,700 yuan (HK$59,600) in savings to cyberthieves despite protecting his pin number and never making an online payment.

The report quoted one insider as saying hackers sent phishing links to smartphone users to gather card information, with one phishing site having more than 100 million hits in half a day.

The thieves also provided “free” wireless connections in public places to secretly mine users’ personal information.

Some shops illegally modified card readers at their checkouts to record card details, selling each record for up to thousands of yuan.

The report also described how gangs stole mobile security codes – which banks automatically send to card holders’ registered mobile phones to verify online transactions – by using either a Trojan virus in the smartphone or a device that intercepted mobile signals up to a kilometre away.

In either case, the card holders were unaware of the theft.

The thieves who obtained Wu’s card information also sent to his mobile phone a Trojan virus to temporarily block text messages being sent to him. As a result he did not receive the notices from his bank about a dozen money transfers from his account.