A Pakistani man is facing multiple charges in the U.S. in connection with the sale of a spyware app that could monitor calls, texts and other communications on mobile phones without detection.
The program in question, StealthGenie, enables it users to intercept communications to and from iPhones, Android devices and Blackberry phones, according to an FBI press release. It was advertised as being undetectable and untraceable.
The suspect, 31-year-old Hammad Akbar, of Lahore, Pakistan, is the chief executive officer of InvoCode Pvt Ltd, the firm that advertises and sells StealthGenie online. He was arrested in Los Angeles on Sept. 27 and was indicted the following day.
He has been charged with conspiracy, sale of a surreptitious interception device, advertisement of a known interception device and advertising a device as a surreptitious interception device.
“Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it’s a crime,” Leslie R. Caldwell, assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said. “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.”
StealthGenie, which was hosted at a data center in Ashburn, Virginia, has been disabled after a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia issued a temporary restraining order authorizing the FBI to take down the website.
The indictment indicated StealthGenie’s target population for the app was “[s]pousal cheat: Husband/Wife of (sic) boyfriend/girlfriend suspecting their other half of cheating or any other suspicious behavior or if they just want to monitor them.”
“This application allegedly equips potential stalkers and criminals with a means to invade an individual’s confidential communications,” said FBI assistant director in charge Andrew McCabe. “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. As technology continues to evolve, the FBI will investigate and bring to justice those who use illegal means to monitor and track individuals without their knowledge.”