In the first criminal case of its kind, a federal indictment has been handed down in Virginia against a Pakistani man for conspiring to advertise and sell a spyware application called StealthGenie intended to secretly monitor mobile phone communications, the FBI
Hammad Akbar, 31, and unnamed accomplices marketed the app to people who suspected their spouses or partners were cheating on them. The app needs to be physically installed on the phone of an unsuspecting victim.
The app was designed to surreptitiously record voice calls and to eavesdrop on conversations within a 15-foot radius. It reads e-mails, SMS messages, calendars, photographs, and videos.
It also enables the spyware operator to illegally track the cell phone owner's every move, according to the FBI statement.
"Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it's a crime," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim's personal life — all without the victim's knowledge."
"The Criminal Division is committed to cracking down on those who seek to profit from technology designed and used to commit brazen invasions of individual privacy," according to the FBI statement.
Akbar runs InvoCode which advertised StealthGenie online. The app is designed to work on all types of cell phones from iPhones and Androids to Blackberrys. He was arrested in Los Angeles on Sept. 27 and brought before a magistrate judge in California on Monday.
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