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The resale of hacked accounts is strictly against Apple's terms of service and is illegal, but they are listed for sale on Chinese auction site TaoBao. ((Associated Press))

Around 50,000 hacked iTunes accounts — each linked to confidential credit card information — have surfaced on Chinese auction site TaoBao.

Beijing's Global Times reports that critical account information is being peddled online for as little as $30.

The publication says that thousands of accounts have already been sold in the past few months. It's unknown whether any of these accounts are Canadian.

A winning bid allows the buyer the ability to download hundreds of dollars of media through Apple's iTunes store at the original user's expense.

TaoBao officials stated that in the interest of protecting their users, they were not prepared to take action until an official request was issued.

Apple's response

"We're always working to enhance account security for iTunes users.  If your credit card or iTunes password is stolen and used on iTunes you should contact your financial institution about any unauthorized purchases, and be sure to change your iTunes password right away.  For tips on protecting your account security visit  www.apple.com/support/itunes."

"At this time, we have not received any information from Apple or any other principal related to the iTunes accounts indicating that these products either violate our listing rules or infringe on the IP of others."

The resale of hacked accounts is strictly against Apple's terms of service and is illegal, though there has been no formal response from Cupertino.

This is not the first occurrence of hacked iTunes information.

Last May, CBC News reported of a similar incident involving compromised account information and suspected Chinese violators. Apple chose not to compensate the victims and argued that users should do more to protect their passwords.

Since that time the iTunes security policy has improved, requiring more complex passwords in addition to increasing the frequency of credit card confirmations.

China has recently been a hotbed for internet fraud, famously culminating in conflict with search engine giant Google over suspected Gmail hacking.

According to Statistics Canada, municipal police departments are not required to maintain cybercrime data, but an FBI-led study confirms that this digital misconduct is sharply on the rise.

The study concludes that there were more than 330,000 complaints filed in 2009 in the United States, a 22.3 per cent increase from the year prior.

They estimate that the total loss in 2009 was more than $559.7 million US.