Chinese auction site touts hacked iTunes accounts

Tens of thousands of reportedly hacked iTunes accounts are found auctioned on Taobao, reports say, but the site is reluctant to stop the bidding to protect its users.

Tens of thousands of reportedly hacked iTunes accounts have been found on Chinese auction site Taobao, but the company claims it is unable to take action unless there are direct complaints, according to news reports.

The Global Times reported Thursday as many as 50,000 illegally obtained iTunes accounts were sold on China's biggest consumer auction site. The Beijing-based newspaper also interviewed a seller who admitted the accounts were hacked but did not reveal how they were obtained.

Taobao, however, said that to protect its users, it would not be taking action until it has received a formal request. In a statement carried by BBC, the company said: "We take all reasonable and necessary measures to protect the rights of consumers who use Taobao, of our sellers and of third-parties. Until we receive a valid takedown request, we cannot take action."

Advertisements on Taobao for the iTunes accounts offer heavily marked down prices. One of the listings visited by ZDNet Asia allowed buyers to decide how much they wanted in the accounts, with US$1 in exchange for only 1 RMB (US$0.15). Buyers are required to purchase at least US$10 and at the time of writing, 175 transactions have been made.

Access to the iTunes account is, however, limited to 12 hours, according to the listing. It also cautioned buyers that apps bought via this means are not upgradeable and that it would be a matter of time before illegally acquired iTunes accounts are closed.

Apple had declined to comment on the news, according to BBC.

This is not the first time Apple iTunes accounts have been compromised. In July 2010, reports surfaced that customers accounts were hacked and used to purchase software. However, it is not clear whether the accounts being sold on Taobao are related to the previous incident.


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