The sale of hacked iTunes accounts in China has been dealt a blow as the Chinese online retailer Taobao.com has decided to remove all product listings relating to the sale of the stolen accounts.
Taobao, China's largest online retailer with 370 million users, said it removed the product listings after consumers reported that some of the iTunes accounts purchased had been stolen.
Many of the iTunes accounts sold on Taobao would allow users to buy goods on the store at bargain Chinese prices. Some advertised the purchase of US$100 worth of iTunes products for as low as 55 yuan ($8.30).
But a security analyst said the accounts were likely obtained by hackers, who have been stealing information from US users. The accounts sold on Taobao came with a recommendation that consumers make their purchases within 12 hours of buying the service. This would prevent the original holders of the account from noticing the charges before they had a chance to cancel their credit card information.
Taobao did not know how many of the product listings were removed. But searches conducted on Tuesday showed that hundreds of product listings related to the sale of iTunes accounts had been taken down. The company said it took down all listings in the interest of protecting its shoppers. The sale of iTunes gift cards on the site appears not to be affected.
The hackers may have obtained the accounts by developing methods to grab user data from personal computers or even iPhones. In past cases, scammers were able to steal iTunes accounts likely by sending out fake e-mail message tricking users to give up their user names and passwords.
Along with the low price, the sale of stolen iTunes accounts is made attractive in China because many consumers there cannot create a legitimate account of their own. The Chinese iTunes store only accepts payment by credit card, which many Chinese do not have.