South Korean police have locked up five people who teamed up with North Korean hackers to steal millions of dollars in points from online gaming sites.
Another nine people have been released while more inquires are made. All have been charged that they worked with North Koreans to hack gaming sites in the South.
The gang members worked in China and shared profits after they sold programs that allowed users to rack up points without actual play, police said. The points were later exchanged for cash through sites where players trade items to be used for their avatars. The police said the gang made about $6m (┬ú3.7m) over the last year and a half. North Korean hackers were asked to join the alleged scheme because they were good at their jobs and could skirt national legal boundaries.
The Korea Computer Centre, Pyongyang's IT research venture, was the main culprit. Set up in 1990, the centre has 1,200 experts developing computer software and hardware for North Korea.
The National Intelligence Service, South Korea's spy agency, was heavily involved in the investigation, the police said. Investigators think that the hackers' so-called "auto programs" also piggy backed North Korean cyberattacks.