According to the Global Times, the activities of the criminal ring have been unveiled following an investigation into the dealings of an illegal gold dealer.
Pressed by the police, he confessed to buying personal information about his clients from an online seller whom he contacted via QQ, a popular instant messaging service.
The investigators linked the QQ number and the bank account to which the payment was made to a individual living in the far off Guizhou Province.
Armed with this information, they discovered the person's collaborators and executed a series of raids at their homes, finding over 1 billion pieces of information.
They also discovered that the ring had been operating since April 2012, and that they managed to earn over 2 million yuan (some $320,000).
Unfortunately, the police hasn't yet shared how the criminals acquired the aforementioned information, or to whom they have been selling it.