- A Pakistani man, Hammad Akbar, is arrested in case of spying app
- StealthGenie was marketed as tool for monitoring spouses and children
- FBI: It's first time anyone has faced criminal charges for marketing, selling such an app
The creator of StealthGenie, a mobile app marketed as a tool for spying on cheating spouses and keeping tabs on children, has been arrested, according to federal authorities.
The FBI said the case marks the first time anyone has faced criminal charges for marketing and selling such an app.
StealthGenie could monitor calls, texts, videos and other communications on mobile phones without detection. It's among a handful of mobile applications called "stalker apps."
"Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it's a crime," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell. "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 app's website appeared to have been taken down Tuesday morning.
Hammad Akbar, 31, of Lahore, Pakistan, was arrested Saturday in Los Angeles and appeared in court Monday. He faces charges of conspiracy, sale of a surreptitious interception device, advertisement of a known interception device and advertising a device as a surreptitious interception device.
Authorities indicted him in Virginia, where a data center that hosted StealthGenie is located, an FBI statement said.
According to the indictment, users of the app had to access a person's phone for just a few minutes to install the app.
"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 in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office, in the statement.