SEA Gamer Mall has confirmed that they are looking into the indictment papers issued by the US Department of Justice; a case in which two of its most prominent staff members have been charged with being involved in an international hacking group.
SEA Gamer Mall is an online store that sells reloads for games and digital services based in Malaysia.
In a Twitter post earlier today, they released a statement; that they have been “made aware of the American allegations against two employees of the company recently”.
The statement also confirmed that CEO Wong Ong Hua and CPO (Chief Product Officer) Ling Yang Ching are on temporary leave while investigations are pending.
The US Department Of Justice charged 46-year-old Wong and 32-year-old Ling with over 23 counts of racketeering, conspiracy, identity theft, aggravated identity theft, access device fraud, money laundering, violations of the CFAA (Computer Fraud And Abuse Act), and falsely registering domain names.
In a statement (via South China Morning Post), US Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A Rosen said:
“First, as the core of APT-41’s computer hacking, the Chinese defendants targeted well over 100 victims worldwide in a variety of industries and sectors that are, sadly, part of the standard target list for Chinese hackers.
These criminal acts were turbocharged by a sophisticated technique referred to as a ‘supply chain attack’, in which the Chinese hackers compromised software providers around the world, and modified the providers’ code to install back doors that enabled further hacks against the software providers’ customers.
Second, and as an additional method of making money, several of the Chinese defendants compromised the networks of video game companies worldwide (a billion-dollar industry) and defrauded them of in-game resources.
Two of the Chinese defendants stand accused, with two Malaysian defendants, of selling those resources on the black market, through their illicit website.”
However, it’s currently unclear what these “resources” seem to be, which could potentially be in-game currency for purchasing DLC or virtual cosmetics.
Gaming analytics company Newzoo previously reported that 20.1 million gamers in Malaysia spent US$673 million on games in 2019, which makes it one of the biggest gaming markets in Southeast Asia. Most of that comes from microtransactions and paid DLC, which SEA Gamer Mall is in the business of.
Both Wong and Ling were arrested on 14 September 2020 through cooperation with local Malaysian authorities and are now facing extradition proceedings. Despite all that, business is currently going on as usual, as evident from its official website.