FBI arrest Birmingham shop owner for selling app that invades privacy
American officials arrested Hammad Akbar for selling a mobile phone app that secretly recorded calls and intercepted emails and texts. Called ‘Stealthgenie’, lawyers for the US Department of Justice described the system as, “expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers.”
Pakistan born Akbar was indicted last month in the first US based case concerning the promotion and sale of a mobile device spyware app. FBI were led to an IT store based in Hall Green where an “untraceable” app was advertised on its website.
Investigators revealed that 31-year-old had been selling the app for four years, breaking US laws which outlaw spyware technology.
It is usable on Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and the Blackberry.
The easy-to-install app’s uses included turning someone’s mobile on or off and recording conversations within a 15-feet radius. The app also recorded phone calls as they were made and hacked into emails, photographs and calendars unbeknownst to the user.
In order to install the app you need the target’s phone for only a few minutes, it then sent all intercepted messages to the customer’s account and the information could be viewed on any computer with internet access.
According to the company’s business plan they expected customers who suspected their partners of infidelity to make up 65% of sales.
“According to our market research, the majority chunk of the sales will come from people suspecting their partners to be cheating on them or wanting to keep an eye on them,” The plan outlined.
Andrew Mccabe, FBI Assistant Director in Charge announced, “This application allegedly equips potential stalkers and criminals with a means to invade an individual’s confidential communications.
“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.”
Stealthgenie was first brought to US attention after it was hosted at a data centre operating from Ashburn, Virginia