National / Crime & Legal

Hard disk theft suspect in Kanagawa data leak had posted 3,900 similar devices for sale

JIJI, Kyodo

A man suspected of fraudulently obtaining hard drives containing data managed by the Kanagawa Prefectural Government has posted over 7,800 items, including over 3,900 hard disks, for sale online, the company he had been working for said Monday.

Yuichi Takahashi, 51, a former employee of Tokyo-based data erasure company Broadlink Co., told police that he stole the devices almost every day, saying it was easy to do in the early morning before work began, investigative sources said Tuesday.

Takahashi began posting hard disks and USB drives for sale on the Yahoo auction website and the Mercari online marketplace after he joined the company in 2016, according to the firm. Broadlink fired Takahashi last Friday.

Takahashi was arrested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department on Friday for stealing 12 hard drives that had been stored in a room used for data deletion. While those were different from the Kanagawa-linked disks, he admitted taking 18 devices related to the prefecture, according to sources.

The Kanagawa-linked hard drives contained large amounts of data, including personal information.

President Shoichi Sakaki and other Broadlink officials apologized for the incident at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday. The company said it had only conducted surprise inspections of employees’ belongings, designed to prevent items from being taken fraudulently, on an irregular basis.

Other than Kanagawa Prefecture, no other central or local government bodies and no corporations have been confirmed to be affected by the fraudulent acts. The company will check its past records against stolen memory devices put on sale to confirm any impact to organizations other than the prefectural government.

“We sincerely apologize for the leak of important data due to a problem in our control system,” Sakaki said. He added that Broadlink will suspend business for about a month or more until it implements prevention measures, after which he will resign.

The president also asked people who may have purchased the stolen memory devices to contact the company, revealing that several people have already done so.

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