After eight months on the run, Chinese authorities have announced that the suspected mastermind behind a large online theft from a Chinese bank has been arrested.

Police in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province, have arrested Song Chenglin, a 23-year-old Harbin college student, who is accused of stealing 770,000 yuan (US$93,000) by hacking into the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). Song was caught on September 20 and handed over to police in Harbin two days later.

At the beginning of this year, Song opened an account at the ICBC with a forged identity card. On January 7, working from an Internet cafe in Harbin, he accessed the computer system of the ICBC's online arm and hacked 158 accounts. He immediately told his roommate Lu Guoxing and together the pair transferred 770,000 yuan to Song's new account.

Song then told two other classmates who may have once financially helped Song, who is from a poor family in Zunyi of Guizhou Province. The next day, the four went to 10 branches of ICBC separately and withdrew 530,000 yuan (US$63,900) in total.

Song took the lion's share first with the odd 30,000 yuan (US$3,600). The four then divided the remaining 500,000 yuan (US$60,300). Song fled to Guizhou on the same day but did not return to his hometown Zunyi. Instead, he rented a house in the suburb of Guiyang.

His three accomplices were caught soon after the bank examined the unusual transactions and identified them through surveillance cameras. Lu Guoxing, Bu Yijun and Zhang Yulong have already been tried and sentenced to 12, 13 and 10 years' imprisonment respectively.

Experts warned that a security loophole in online banks may cause huge losses.


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