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Korean loan sharks feed on hacked data

Alleged ringleader flees to China

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Korean police are hunting a loan broker thought to have fled to China after allegedly fencing nine million credit records.

Police are working on the theory that Korean financial data files obtained by a Chinese hacker were resold by a 42-year-old go-between, named only by his surname Chun. The suspected crook, charged with raking in SouKorean Won 2.7bn ($2.67m), is reckoned to have high-tailed it to China before police could slap on the cuffs. Another suspect, 29-year-old Im, has also bolted.

Korean police arrested six of Chun's alleged accomplices including a 42-year-old suspect named as Shin, who ran a "loan mediating company". The gang allegedly bought personal data files obtained after a Chinese hacker broke into the systems of Korean banks, loan firm and internet shopping malls for Won 15m ($14,900) in May 2006. The information included names, addresses and residency card numbers. The majority (4.8 million) of the records were obtained from banks.

Instead of using this information to obtain credit cards or lines of credit under assumed names as in regular ID fraud, the gang used it as a marketing database. Members of the gang phoned up likely targets on behalf of local loan sharks. Chun's gang allegedly charged five to 15 per cent commission per deal, earning them Won 2.5 billion through an estimated 1,100 agreements. Chun is also accused of selling on the data he bought to another shady loan operation for a further Won 220m.

The English language version of Korean website Chosun Ilbo has more details here. ®

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