South Korean police announced Wednesday that they have arrested two people for using webcams to spy on approximately 1,600 hotel guests in 10 different cities.
According to reports by CNN, the BBC and the Korea Herald newspaper, the suspects, who were not named, are accused of live-streaming guests in nearly four dozen rooms at least 30 hotels over the last six months, beginning Nov. 24, 2018, and ending March 2 of this year. Two others were investigated but not arrested, the CNN and the Korea Herald report.
The Cyber Investigation Department of the National Police Agency told the outlets that the culprits spied on guests using 1-millimeter cameras hidden in TVs, hair dryers and electric sockets, no bigger than the head of a small screw.
The hotels affected were not named, and police said there was no evidence they were involved in the scheme.
The suspects are accused of setting up a website using an overseas server that attracted more than 4,000 members, nearly 100 of whom paid $45 a month for on-demand video access. All told, it brought in upwards of $6,000 before it was shut down earlier this month.
“There was a similar case in the past where illegal cameras were installed in (hotels) and were consistently and secretly watched, but this is the first time the police caught where videos were broadcast live on the internet,” the National Police Agency told CNN.
If convicted of distributing illegal videos, the suspects are facing jail time and a penalty of about $27,000, according to The Korea Herald.
The use of spycams to film women in public restrooms and other locations has been a growing problem in South Korea in recent years. According to The BBC, more than 6,000 cases were reported there in 2017, nearly triple the number from 2012. However, just 2 percent of the perpetrators were given jail time.
Last June, thousands of women protested in Seoul as part of a campaign called “My Life is Not Your Porn,” demanding tougher sentences for those caught secretly filming them.
USA TODAY has reached out to the National Police Agency for comment.