17 Chinese hackers detained for stealing US$239,000 from shopping website

Suspects identified as members of an online hacking group that discussed ways to exploit security loopholes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 January, 2018, 4:22pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 11:32am

Seventeen people have been detained for stealing 1.55 million yuan (US$239,000) from a Chinese online shopping website by hacking into its financial accounts, local media reported.

The suspects, from 12 provinces across China, were all aged between 16 and 20, and members of an internet chat group that discussed and shared information about online security loopholes, Qilu Evening News reported.

The report did not identify the website, except to say it was based in Linyi, eastern China’s Shandong province, or explain exactly how the group operated, but an unnamed manager was quoted as saying that it recorded an unusually high level of activity in a 2½-hour period before the money went missing.

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“A huge amount of money was deposited in the site and then withdrawn. At the peak there was more than 100 million yuan,” the person said.

When activity levels returned to normal it became clear that 1.55 million yuan worth of deposits was missing, the report said.

The incident happened in April last year and the arrests were made in August, but the story was reported only over the weekend.

The suspects collaborated on the theft, with each stealing a different amount. The largest single haul was 150,000 yuan, the report said.

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After a three-month investigation, police retrieved 800,000 yuan of the stolen money, which had been transferred to personal accounts held with more than a dozen different banks.

The report said that the retrieved funds were returned to the website, but did not say what had happened to the rest of the money.