American International Group Inc.’s Japan arm, at the center of the country’s worst fiasco involving fraudulent use of credit cards, admitted Wednesday that 230,000 of its card-holding customers may have had their data leaked to unauthorized outsiders and a Chinese service provider may be involved.
The significant leap from the 18,000 cases announced by Alico Japan in September came to light after the insurer expanded the scope of its internal investigation to other types of credit cards that were not subject to an earlier probe, company officials said in Tokyo.
Alico Japan said confirmed data leak cases numbered 32,359. In September, 18,184 were announced.
The insurer said it has received inquiries from credit card companies about possible fraudulent card uses. The number of such inquiries totaled 5,122 as of Nov. 5. Information was not provided on the amount racked up via credit card frauds.
Alico Japan also said its earlier probe concluded that card data had leaked through an employee of a non-Alico firm authorized to provide maintenance services for the insurer’s computer systems.
At Wednesday’s news conference, Alico Japan officials said the credit card data leak from the firm’s central computer probably occurred via an identification number given to the employee. The system service provider is a firm in China with access to Alico Japan’s computer system, the officials said, adding the employee has denied any involvement in the leak.
The insurer has asked Chinese police to launch a probe on their side as well, the officials said. Alico Japan plans to file a criminal complaint against the employee by year’s end, they added.
“We are extremely sorry the scale of data leak has grown further,” Alico Japan Vice Chairman Tetsu Hirano said. “We are planning to punish company executives.”
Hirano also promised that Alico Japan will cover all the financial damage inflicted on its customers that could result from the fraudulent uses of their credit cards.
Alico Japan has already asked credit-card companies to raise alert levels on the uses of credit cards linked to Alico Japan customers, he said.