Chinese media denounces smartphone crime farms – The Register

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Chinese newcomers are selling smartphone motherboards – as well as kits to operate and manage them on a large scale – to corporate operators who use them to commit various scams and crimes, according to an undercover investigation by the state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) revealed late last week. .

The report shows what appears to be a chassis filled with 20 smartphone motherboards each, connected to a monitor that displays the screens of all 20 units. It also shows a sort of data center filled with racks, each containing multiple chassis and up to 1,000 smartphones, all hard at work.

The phones are each connected to a unique account, and operators take care to change their IP addresses often – to escape detection from online platforms or regulatory authorities. alleged Video surveillance.

Indeed, phones are used for purposes such as posting fake comments or likes – some with SEO-enhancing links – or placing fake orders on e-commerce sites.

Carriers reportedly charge between RMB 3,000 ($417) and RMB 6,000 ($834) for a system of 20 smartphones.

One of the managers of an establishment that rents bare smartphones and the services that accompany them reportedly told CCTV that he does not know the identities of his customers – don’t ask, don’t tell is his preferred way of working .

The broadcaster stressed that this type of telephone exploitation is clearly illegal: it violates Article 53 of China’s telecommunications regulations, which stipulates that telecommunications, radio and network equipment connected to the public telecommunications network must comply meet national standards and obtain a network access license. .

Chinese local media Jiemian News reported that major e-commerce platforms like Taobao and Poinduoduo have blocked search terms that would help buyers find phone farms or the builders of the kit they run.

However, disbelievers can be found by other means. Some even offer management software that allows for screen mirroring, remote device access, and file transfers.

Others offer cloudy smartphones – to reduce hardware dependence.

Some vendors want to present legitimate uses for their configurations. One describes its group control technology as a game development and testing tool because it can simulate multiple users.

Nevertheless, Jiemian News reported that among companies engaged in mobile phone motherboard business, more than 23% have encountered legal problems – but less than 3% have faced administrative sanctions. ®

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