Man charged with selling smartphone spying software

September 29, 2014

US prosecutors on Monday indicted a Pakistani man for marketing a StealthGenie application that could be used to secretly spy on calls, texts, and other activity on smartphones.

Charges leveled against 31-year-old Hammad Akbar, 31, of Lahore, Pakistan, were billed by the US Department of Justice as the first-ever criminal case centered on the advertisement and sale of an app tailored to spy on smartphones.

"Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it's a crime," assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department criminal division said in a release.

"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."

Caldwell added that the Justice Department is "cracking down" on those intent on using technology designed for "brazen invasions" of people's privacy.

Akbar is chief executive of InvoCode, a company that advertises and sells StealthGenie online, according to the indictment.

The application can intercept calls, pictures, texts or other communications between smartphones, and was marketed as being untraceable, prosecutors said.

Akbar was arrested in Los Angeles on Saturday and charged in the indictment with charges involving conspiracy and selling "a known interception device," according to prosecutors.

A federal judge issued a restraining order on Friday authorizing the FBI to disable the StealthGenie website hosted at a data center in the state of Virginia.

The StealthGenie application has little use beyond spying on smartphone use, according to US attorney Dana Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia.

"This application allegedly equips potential stalkers and criminals with a means to invade an individual's confidential communications," FBI assistant director-in-charge Andrew McCabe said in a release.

"They do this not by breaking into their homes or offices, but by physically installing spyware on unwitting victim's phones and illegally tracking an individual's every move."

According to the indictment, StealthGenie capabilities include intercepting voice calls, monitoring conversations taking place near mobile phones, and monitoring email, text messages, photographs, videos and calendars.

The product was reportedly marketed at people who suspected a spouse of cheating.

Explore further: Busted: 5 Myths about Facebook's messenger app

Related Stories

Busted: 5 Myths about Facebook's messenger app

August 11, 2014

Facebook's recent effort to force people to adopt its standalone mobile messaging app has privacy-concerned users up in arms. Many of them believe the app is especially invasive.

Google settles with FTC over in-app charges

September 4, 2014

Google has agreed to pay full refunds totaling at least $19 million to consumers who were charged for purchases that children made via apps without parental consent from the Google Play app store.

Recommended for you

Galactic center visualization delivers star power

March 21, 2019

Want to take a trip to the center of the Milky Way? Check out a new immersive, ultra-high-definition visualization. This 360-movie offers an unparalleled opportunity to look around the center of the galaxy, from the vantage ...

Ultra-sharp images make old stars look absolutely marvelous

March 21, 2019

Using high-resolution adaptive optics imaging from the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. The remarkably sharp image looks back into the early history of ...

When more women make decisions, the environment wins

March 21, 2019

When more women are involved in group decisions about land management, the group conserves more—particularly when offered financial incentives to do so, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study published ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

joe_detracktor
not rated yet Sep 29, 2014
A cell phone can be stopped from tracking if it is placed in a Faraday Cage. A Faraday cage is a metal or conductive envelope that completely surrounds the electronic device and stops signals from going into or out of the cage.This can be accomplished by making a pouch out of a metallized ie conductive fabric. Search youtube for detracktor for a demonstration.
joe_detracktor
not rated yet Sep 29, 2014
There are many companies selling this same software and have been doing this for years. This type of software is readily available on the internet, some for less than $50.00. A link to a comparison of 2014 "cell phone monitoring software" is: http://cell-phone-monitoring-software-review.toptenreviews.com/

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.