**UPDATE(4.00pm) – SEA Gamer Mall has since commented on the arrests and allegations, their statement is attached to the bottom of this article.
The CEO and CPO of SEA Gamer Mall (SEAGM) have been indicted by the US Department of Justice, according to reports.
This is part of a larger Grand Jury indictment involving five Chinese Nationals. Reports say the hackers are charged with allegedly hacking over 100 companies in the United States and abroad. These companies include software development companies, as well as gaming firms and social media companies.
Prosecutors say that the hackers attacked game services in order to defraud them of virtual items. These items were later sold through SEA Gamer Mall, a secondary market reseller.
Similarly, it’s also reported that the CEO and CPO of SEA Gamer Mall, Wong Ong Hua and Ling Yang Ching, have been arrested. The U.S is now seeking to extradite the two, though sources say the two will try to fight extradition.
A Win In The Fight Against Cyber Crime
Deputy Director of the FBI, David Bowdich, describes the case as a win in the battle against cyber crime. He also alluded to Beijing’s interference being a large obstacle in prosecuting such cases.
“We’re here today to tell these hackers and the Chinese government officials who turned a blind eye to their activity that their actions are once again unacceptable, and we will call them out publicly,” Bowdich said. “Indictments are one way we do that. But often that’s all we can do — indict the criminals and publicly condemn their actions. But this time, thanks to our law enforcement partners in Malaysia, two of these criminals are behind bars.”
According to The Star, Beijing has denied involvement in the hacking charges. Similarly, the Chinese embassy in the U.S has not responded to requests for comment.
These actions come as part of the Department of Justice’s attempts to crack down on hacking activity. Microsoft Corp claimed credit for developing tools to help neutralize the hackers, and applauded the government for “taking action to protect customers”.
Secondary market resellers like SEAGM operate in a gray area, often reselling digital goods such as codes. Critics often question the legitimacy of these digital goods, claiming they come from illegitimate means. Today’s arrest is going to only further empower these arguments.
SEA Gamer Mall has since commented on the reports, and issued the following statement. According to them, the two arrested have been placed on leave, pending resolution of the matter. Additionally, they’ve denied any responsibility in the charges levied against them.