Two South Korean men have been arrested on suspicion of sending 1.6 billion spam emails, in what police describe as one of the biggest spam campaigns in the country's history.
The men, 20 and 26 years old, allegedly sent the unsolicited messages between September and December of last year, authorities in Seoul said.
The duo, both computer programmers, are believed to have then obtained personal and financial information from 12,000 web users and sold the data to lending services for about $106,000, police said.
"This kind of spam mailing is causing enormous problems in South Korea, and we think these two are responsible for some of the biggest abuses," a South Korean police official said in a statement.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, said authorities should send a strong message to spammers.
"South Korea is the third-worst nation in the world for relaying spam, so it’s critical that the authorities are cracking down on spammers based in the country," he said. "Hackers are battering inboxes in their attempts to make fast money, sell fake goods, and - in the worst cases - steal identities. The courts in South Korea need to send a strong message to abusers of the internet that their criminal antics will not be tolerated."
In May 2006, South Korean authorities arrested a man on suspicion of running a network of compromised computers alleged to have sent 18 million spam emails a day.