Chinese court jails World of Warcraft cybercrime ring
The World of Warcraft is not exempt from the laws of China.
Last week, Zhejiang province’s Songyang county court sentenced ten men to prison terms of up to two years, reports Zhejiang Online. Their crime: Hijacking more than 11,500 WoW accounts, violating state regulations banning invasive access of “ordinary computer information systems,” among other charges.
The men didn’t hack the accounts themselves; instead, they purchased the login information through shady, underground markets for around $1 a piece. They flipped the gold and gear, selling it to other gamers for roughly $3 per account, reportedly earning at least $10,800 in profit.
But the government confiscated the ill-gotten gains — as well as the computers they used for their nefarious activities — following the group’s sentencing. Chen, the ringleader, received two years in jail and an $8,000 fine; his cohorts each received slightly under two years and $1,000 fines.
While Chinese cybercrime is often discussed in an international context, with Chinese hackers targeting computer systems in the U.S. and elsewhere, the country has a major cybercrime problem inside its own borders. An average 700,000 Chinese web users are victims of Internet crime on a daily basis, according to a Jan. 2013 report, which cost the country an estimated $46.4 billion in economic losses last year.
It’s difficult to track the widespread police response to cybercrime, which is usually lumped alongside pornography, gambling, and other activities that cause “social harm” to the Chinese Communist Party. The vast majority of crimes go unreported, generally because they involve a small amount of money.
In late 2012, China passed a regulation that aims to strengthen protection of web users’ personal information, but it’s far from a comprehensive cybercrime law, which the country desperately needs given the economic impact of domestic cybercrime.
It certainly doesn’t help that the state helps legitimize cybercrime by using similar tactics to monitor domestic dissidents and foreign targets. Period web “crackdowns” are often arrests of human rights activists rather than organized cybercrime gangs, like that of Chen and his WoW thieves.Related articlesYou can’t escape the NSA – even on World of Warcraft and Xbox LiveBitcoin nosedives following crackdown in China2013 in review: A whole bunch of video game numbers