Authorities in China detained more than a dozen Apple employees suspected of selling customers’ personal data as part of a massive underground operation.
According to the International Business Times, police in eastern China arrested 22 suspects last month on suspicion of “infringing individuals’ privacy and illegally obtaining personal information.”
Of the suspects, 20 of them were identified as Apple employees working as part of outsourced “direct sales” and marketing.
The employees allegedly used the company’s internal computer system to collect customer names, mobile numbers, Apple IDs and more.
Users’ personal data was then sold on the underground market, ranging from 10 yuan ($1.50 USD) to 180 yuan ($26.50 USD) apiece.
Overall, the fraudsters are believed to have netted more than 50 million yuan ($7.36 million USD) for the stolen data.
A statement my local authorities did not specify whether the personal information belonged to users based in China, or if international users were also impacted.
The arrest follows months of investigation, the statement said, involving police from several provinces, including Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian.
Authorities also seized the suspects’ “criminal tools” and dismantled their online network.
Earlier this month, China implemented a controversial new cybersecurity law as part of wide-ranging efforts to manage the Internet within its borders.