China arrests 22 suspects for selling Apple user data on black market

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Police in the coastal Chinese province of Zhejiang have arrested 22 Apple distributors, accusing them of reselling iPhone user data to anyone willing to pay.

The people allegedly scoured an internal Apple database for information such as Apple IDs and phone numbers, according to Engadget. Prices for the illicit data ranged from 10 to 180 yuan, or around $1.50 to $26.

Collectively the distributors made about 50 million yuan — $7.36 million — before police intervened. Reports haven't revealed the number of affected accounts and devices, or other important facts, such as whether there were any victims outside of China.

Apple normally prides itself on its privacy and security, which raises questions of how and why the distributors had access to the database. China has long had problems with Apple IDs being sold on the black market — typically, though, these are stolen by hackers, acquired through methods like phishing schemes.

Earlier this year, a group calling itself the "Turkish Crime Family" tried to hold Apple to ransom, claiming it had access to hundreds of millions of Apple accounts, and the ability to wipe iPhones and iPads. While the hackers said they were paid, Apple insisted that its servers hadn't been breached, and that the account information was "obtained from previously compromised third-party services."