Teen in Japan Held For Selling Smartphone Virus for ‘Pocket Money’

A 13-year-old boy from Osaka was referred to a juvenile consultation center by Japanese authorities for allegedly selling a smartphone virus through an online market place.

The boy, a second grader at a public junior high school whose name has been withheld, admitted his crime to the Nara prefectural police’s cyber crime division on Tuesday, and said he was in need of pocket money, according to The Japan News.

The student was put in a juvenile center because Japanese law cannot hold anyone under the age of 14 liable for their crimes.

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He was suspected of selling and spreading information on how to acquire the smartphone malware to four other teenagers whose age are believed to be between 14 and 19. The boy sold the virus to the four teens for points worth around 5,000 Japanese yen (approximately $46) on the online mobile shopping app, Mercari, in March.

Authorities referred the four teenagers, who are reportedly from Nagano, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures, to prosecutors on suspicion of illegally downloading the virus. In their statement, the teens admitted that they planned on using the virus to pull a prank on their friends.

This virus, though harmless, can be quite a nuisance for someone who might have accidentally downloaded it. What it basically does is it fills the smartphone’s screen of male faces rendering the device difficult to use. Luckily, no damages caused by the virus have been reported.

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It is illegal for someone to distribute or sell computer viruses to the public. According to the country’s new legislation, those who end up getting caught in possession of a computer virus — whether it be for desktops or smartphones — may face a maximum fine of 500,000 Japanese yen (about $4,590) or worse, up to three years of prison time.

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons / Santeri Viinamäki (Left) (CC BY-SA 4.0), Karl Baron (Right) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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