South Korean authorities have arrested a group of individuals behind a mobile application used by local brothels to share the personal information of its customers.
Brothel clients’ data: The app has reportedly allowed approximately 6,400 sex work establishments to share private customer data, including 4.6 million phone numbers, past records of visiting other brothels, occupations and even sexual preferences.
Brothels that use the app automatically download their customer information to a database that other businesses could then access and use for commercial purposes.
Busted operation: The app’s developer, identified only as a man in his 40s, along with his 15 accomplices, charged a monthly fee of 100,000 won ($76) from its users.
Local authorities have taken three of the offenders, including the app developer, into custody for questioning, while the other 12 individuals were booked without physical detention.
The suspects will be facing charges for violating the law on personal information protection and the law on punishment of prostitution.
Criminal activities: According to the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police, app users had been accessing customer data for commercial purposes from January 2021 to February this year.
The group reportedly earned over 1.8 billion won ($1.3 million) in total, with monthly profits reaching up to 300 million won ($230,000). The officers successfully confiscated most of the profits.
Extended user base: According to the authorities, the majority of the users are private detectives who used the app to investigate individuals involved in sex trafficking on behalf of their partners or spouses.
Meanwhile, voice phishing gangs blackmailed sex brothel patrons via the app, threatening to expose their secrets if they refused to pay money.
According to a police official, the case remains under investigation as they continue to look into similar apps and other individuals who may have used it.