Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) has arrested four engineers in the city of Taoyuan for allegedly selling Intel CPU test samples on eBay for personal profit. The engineers had been employed by undisclosed Intel OEM manufacturers in Taiwan.
Taiwanese detectives had been searching for the suspects since September and raided their homes just last month, The China Post reported. During the raid, officials found and confiscated 178 samples of Intel CPUs, worth an estimated $82,500.
Intel didn’t respond to a request for comment. According to the CIB’s official statement made Monday, however, the four suspects admitted to selling at least 500 Intel sample CPUs since 2009. The samples sold through eBay were beta versions of integrated circuits (IC) that are built only compatibility tests, and are typically distributed to OEM manufacturers prior to commercial release for product development purposes only, the CIB said.
The CPU engineering samples sold by the suspects are typically distributed under non-disclosure or other confidentiality agreements.
While not meant for commercial release, sample chips can generally sell well online because they’re less expensive than those sold on the open market, the CIB said. What’s more, the rarity of engineering samples, along with the unlocked multipliers they often deliver, helped drive profit for the suspects.
The CIB did not disclose the total profit made by the four engineers. It did note, however, that the crime could mean up to five years jail time for the suspects.