Two Chinese men who wrote a computer virus that made headlines back in 2007 are in the news again, this time after being arrested for setting up an illegal online gambling site in mainland China.
The story begins when Zhang Shun and Li Jun created the “Fujacks” virus. The program, which became better known as the “panda” virus, infected programs and changed their icons to a panda burning three sticks of incense.
But behind the scenes, that virus was doing much more nefarious work. The Fujacks worm ultimately infected about one million computers in China, and worked to steal online gaming usernames and passwords from the owners of those machines. Ultimately, the information stolen through the virus allowed Li and Zhang to steal 100,000 yuan ($16,000).
The two were eventually caught and jailed, and seemed to want to make amends when they were released from prison. Li made a 50,000 yuan ($8,000) donation to a panda breeding center, and along with Zhang, set up a legitimate online gaming company that focused on a game that has recently been growing in popularity in China: chess.
Illegal Gambling Site
But despite the popularity of the board game (and perhaps because many sites already existed for casual and serious chess players alike), Gold Ingot Chess – their site – simply didn’t take off for the pair. And it seems that at this point, they were once again tempted to skirt the law to make a living online.
The solution, this time, was turning their chess site into an online gambling platform. This proved popular enough to make millions of yuan (one million yuan is equivalent to approximately $163,000), far outstripping what they could hope to make on a chess site.
Unfortunately for the site creators, while gambling is incredibly popular in Macau, it’s illegal in mainland China, and authorities quickly caught on to what was going on. A recent crackdown on gambling by Chinese police caught nearly 20 different individuals running land-based or online gambling operations. Li and Zhang attempted to escape capture, and even went so far as destroying equipment in the hopes of avoiding detection, but they were eventually caught.
The two have not yet been sentenced, but could face up to ten years in jail for their crimes.