300 suspected of illegally sourcing personal data
Updated: 2013-08-12 07:11
By An Baijie (China Daily)
Around 300 employees at a company in Beijing have been detained on suspicion of illegally sourcing personal data to make a profit.
The suspects, from Tistina International Collection, are accused of using the data to off-load inferior collectibles, such as memorial coins and stamp albums, at high prices.
Around 300 officers were sent to raid the company's office in Fengtai district on Wednesday, Beijing Public Security Bureau said in a statement on Saturday.
Four hundred employees were initially questioned, and about 300 were taken into custody, it said.
Police said the company hired women to cold-call people whose data they had illegally obtained to sell the collectibles, and each employee made at least 200 calls a day.
Tistina had completed more than 30,000 transactions, with a total value of 100 million yuan ($16.3 million), according to the statement, which added that the company founder, a 38-year-old man identified only as Han, of Panjin in Liaoning province, has not been captured.
Zi Xiangdong, a spokesman for Beijing Public Security Bureau, said the investigation is ongoing.
Calls to the company went unanswered on Sunday.
Beijing Youth Daily reported the company had so much information that police had to use four vehicles to transport the documents. The data included names, cellphone numbers and addresses, much of it obtained through online shopping and credit card records.
The report said a female employee told police she earned 2,000 yuan during the first month she worked for the company. By the third month, she was making 18,000 yuan, since she knew how to persuade people to buy the collectible items.
Elderly people were targeted, she told police.
Public security authorities have been cracking down on the illegal trade of personal data in recent years.
In April 2012, more than 1,700 suspects, including civil servants, were detained in 20 provinces for selling or buying personal information, Xinhua News Agency reported.
"The trade infringes privacy and leads to fraud activities," said law professor Liu Deliang at Beijing Normal University.
People who sell or illegally obtain personal data face criminal sentences, according to Chinese law, while it is also forbidden for any person or organization to steal or sell personal information.
Cao Yin contributed to this story.
(China Daily USA 08/12/2013 page4)