According to Global Times, the accounts come with $200 of iTunes purchasing credits and are being sold on Taobao for a pittance, ranging from a single yuan (about $0.15) to as much as 200 yuan (about $30). The accounts reportedly remain active for only 12 to 24 hours.
Global Times claims to have purchased one of these iTunes accounts for $5 through Taobao. Upon accessing the new account, Global Times discovered that a credit card with a United States billing address was already attached to the account.
How did criminals get access to these accounts? USA Today offers an explanation: "The simplest way to pull this off would be to acquire stolen iTunes account logons in the Internet underground, and then put them up for sale on Taobao." Though, as the BBC points out, someone with access to previously obtained credit card data could also have set up the accounts.
Although these practices violate the terms and conditions of the iTunes user policy, the BBC reports that Taobao cannot remove any questionable listings without "direct complaints about the sales."
In August, a similar issue occurred when scammers managed to access iTunes accounts that were linked to users' PayPal accounts.