The Chiba Prefectural Police in Japan arrested nine people last week in connection with a crime ring dedicated to spreading Android malware. The leader of the crime ring was Masaaki Kagawa, a 50-year-old president of an IT company and poker player who has earned more than $1.5 million in international poker tournaments.
According to Symantec, which worked with Japanese police to bust the crime ring, the operation began in September 2012 and collected 37 million email addresses from 810,000 Android devices before police raided the company office in April 2013. Kagawa’s ring used the email addresses to lure people into a fake dating website called Sakura. During the last five months of the operation, the crime ring earned more than 390 million yen ($3.9 million USD).
The malware, known as Android.Enesoluty, is a Trojan that steals contact information and sends it to the hackers. In December 2012, the hackers even added a user agreement to fake apps that were spreading the malware in order to evade law enforcement.
Kagawa was named the “main player running the operation.” During his last poker tournament, the 2013 Aussie Millions Poker Championship, where he earned $320,000, Kagawa was already under investigation. Kagawa is also the president of Koei Planning, a Tokyo-based IT firm.
Although the hackers are now behind bars, Symantec pointed out that Android.Enesoluty is closely related to another malware, Android.Uracto. A different group of hackers is behind Android.Uracto and haven’t been identified yet.