For the first time criminal charges have been brought against a suspect for allegedly advertising and selling spyware for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry – software that’s purportedly capable of intercepting phone calls, text messages and emails, and even eavesdropping on offline conversations happening within a few yards of the smartphone carrier.

The Department of Justice announced today the indictment of Pakistani national Hammad Akbar, CEO of InvoCode Pvt Ltd, the U.K.-based company that sells StealthGenie software online, in part marketing it to suspicious spouses and lovers. Akbar was arrested in Los Angeles Saturday.

“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 DOJ 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. 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.”

The FBI says a potential user would need to be alone with a target device for “only a few minutes” to install the software and then could monitor the phone without physical contact again – using software that is “undetectable by most users and was advertised as being untraceable.” In addition to monitoring basically all communications on the target smartphone, the StealthGenie user could

“call the phone and activate it any time to monitor all surrounding conversations within a 15-foot radius,” the FBI said.

The DOJ release said that part of StealthGenie’s marketing plan was to sell to customers who suspect their significant others are cheating on them.

By LEE FERRAN

 

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