FBI agents in Los Angeles arrested a Pakistani man Saturday for allegedly marketing and selling a "stalker app."
The app, called StealthGenie, enabled users to tap into someone else's phone to monitor calls, texts and Internet browsing — all without the other person's knowledge, authorities said. The app was marketed to those who suspected their spouses or partners might have been cheating on them and to parents who wanted to keep closer tabs on their children.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said apps like StealthGenie are essentially spyware for smartphones. Caldwell said "selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it's a crime."
"[They 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 said.
Authorities arrested 31-year-old Hammad Akbar of Lahore, Pakistan, on charges of conspiracy, sale of a surreptitious interception device, advertisement of a known interception device and advertising a device as a surreptitious interception device, KCCI-TV reported.
According to an FBI statement, Akbar was indicted in a Virginia court Monday. Virginia, as the FBI indicated, was home to at least one of StealthGenie's data centers. As of Tuesday morning, the app's website appeared to have been taken down. A quick search of "StealthGenie" on the iTunes App Store shows two results, neither of which appear to be the app Akbar allegedly sold.
"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," said Andrew McCabe, assistant director of the FBI's Washington field office.
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