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First Ever US Spyware Conviction as Danish Man Pleads Guilty

A Danish citizen has had the dubious honor of becoming the first ever person to be convicted of selling spyware in the US.

Hammad Akbar, 31, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia last week and will be forced to pay $500,000 for advertising and selling eavesdropping app StealthGenie, according to a Department of Justice note.

Akbar is the CEO of StealthGenie sellers InvoCode and Cubitium. The app is apparently designed to remotely monitor calls, texts, videos and other communications without detection. It was available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry and advertised as completely untraceable, the DoJ said.

“The defendant advertised and sold a spyware app that could be secretly installed on smart phones without the knowledge of the phone's owner,” said US attorney Dana Boente, in a statement. 

“This spyware app allowed individuals to intercept phone calls, electronic mail, text messages, voicemails and photographs of others. The product allowed for the wholesale invasion of privacy by other individuals, and this office in coordination with our law enforcement partners will prosecute not just users of apps like this, but the makers and marketers of such tools as well.”

Akbar was arrested in Los Angeles at the end of September. On pleading guilty he was forced to pay the fine and forfeit the StealthGenie source code. However, he was sentenced only to time served.

The trial was held in Virginia as that was where Akbar’s website was hosted.

Once installed, StealthGenie launched silently in the background once the target device was switched on and remained hidden all the while – intercepting ingoing and outgoing telephone calls, emails, text messages, voicemails, and even photographs.

It also allowed the eavesdropper to remotely switch on the device’s microphone to record phone conversations, the DoJ said.

Akbar apparently sold StealthGenie to an undercover FBI agent in December 2012.

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