• Kyodo

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Police arrested eight people Tuesday linked to a “phishing” ring that stole personal information from people who accessed a fake Yahoo Japan auction site.

It is the first police crackdown on organized phishing fraud, according to Kyoto police, who investigated the case along with the Shizuoka and Kumamoto forces.

The first suspect arrested, Takayuki Matsuoka, 34, a resident of Itabashi Ward, Tokyo, faces charges of fraud and of violating the Unauthorized Computer Access Law. Later in the day, police also arrested the other seven in the Tokyo-based ring.

The group is suspected of stealing the personal information of some 1,000 people since last year and to have defrauded some 700 people out of about 100 million yen by using the data, police said.

From September to April, the group sent users of the auction service unsolicited e-mail purporting to show their Yahoo auction records, police said.

When recipients clicked on a Web link in the e-mail, they were taken to a fake Yahoo auction site and some of them provided their IDs and passwords, which the group used to access the real auction site and put nonexistent items like watches and audio equipment up for sale, police said.

People who made what they thought were successful bids on the items wired payments to the group’s bank accounts.

Matsuoka was arrested specifically on suspicion of stealing data from at least two men, in Kyoto and Kumamoto Prefecture, and defrauding two other men, in Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture, of a combined 500,000 yen.

Investigators tracked down the suspects by analyzing Internet access records and videos from security monitors at financial institutions where the wired money was withdrawn, police said.

Boy’s game scam

The Metropolitan Police Department said Tuesday it has turned over to prosecutors a case against a 14-year-old boy suspected of stealing personal information from dozens of people by setting up a Web site made to look like that of an Internet gaming company.

In the “phishing” scam, the third-year junior high school student is suspected of creating a Web page that mimicked an online registration form for a gaming site run by NHN Japan Corp. He allegedly stole the names and e-mail addresses of dozens of people who visited the fake site in February and March.

The boy, whose name is being withheld because he is a minor, has admitted to the scheme, in violation of the Unauthorized Computer Access Law and the Copyright Law, police said.

According to police, the boy used the stolen data to access the actual NHN Web site to play online games and to send threatening e-mails to some of the people whose personal data he had stolen.

Police began investigating after the gaming company contacted them in March.

They said they do not plan to arrest the boy because he lives with his parents and there is little risk that he will flee or destroy evidence.

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