A 17-year-old computer genius surnamed Ye shed tears as he was sent to a detention house in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, for stealing credit cards.
"I am sorry for violating laws, and I will take the bitter lesson to heart," he told public prosecutors.
Ye was detained in a hotel in Hechi, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, one year ago, for having stolen and fraudulently used 208 credit cards valued at more than 420,000 yuan ($67,742), according to a statement released by the Guangzhou Yuexiu district people's procuratorate on Thursday.
The superhacker, who could crack computer passwords by the time he was in third grade, was also suspected of having successfully broken the codes of more than 190,000 bank accounts, allowing him to withdraw more than 1.5 billion yuan in cash, the statement said.
Ye, who was transferred to the procuratorate for prosecution in March, was disappointed when none of his family members attended a public hearing held in Guangzhou Yuexiu District People's Court on April 16. His parents divorced before he could remember. His mother abandoned him for new marriage, and he grew up with his maternal grandparents, both of whom had health problems. He taught himself computer programming while working part time at an Internet cafe.
Ye confessed to the charge of using credit cards to defraud. The court has not yet rendered a verdict.
Li Lidan, a public prosecutor, said Ye was under 18 when he committed his offenses, which seriously harmed society; otherwise, he would be more harshly punished.
"Prosecutors have an obligation to help minors, particularly those with talents, to amend their ways," Li said, adding that Ye promised to improve while in detention to reduce the punishment.
Prosecutors bought Ye some computer books at his request earlier this week. He remains eager to study computer science, Li said.
"I would like to work for computer companies or websites in the future and become a defender of computer network security," Ye was quoted as saying by prosecutors.
Ye honed his computer skills working in a cyber cafe after school as a junior high student. Without parents, he worked part time to earn his own tuition. He was employed by the cafe after graduating from junior high school in 2009. He started stealing and breaking into others' bank accounts in July 2013.