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FBI Shuts Down “Stalking” App

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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StealthGenie allowed users to monitor calls and texts and eavesdrop using device microphone

The inventor of a smartphone “stalker” app which allowed users complete access and control of someone else’s device has been arrested by the FBI.

Hammad Akbar, aged 31 and originally from Lahroe, Pakistan, was taken in by authorities in Los Angeles following an investigation into the StealthGenie app, which was marketed as a tool for spying on cheating spouses or tracking children’s movements.

Costing $59.99 (£37), the app, advertised as being undetectable and untraceable, allowed users to monitor all incoming and outgoing calls and texts sent by a device in real time. It also gave the user complete access to all data on the victim’s phone, as well as allowing them to monitor all conversations within 15 feet of the handset.

Users could also access a device’s GPS signal, allowing them to pinpoint the victim’s location, and eavesdrop on conversations using the devices’ microphone.

stealthgenieSecret spy

The app, which could be installed in minutes and was available for Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices, had had over 100,000 downloads from “satisfied customers”, before being shut down, an FBI spokesperson said.

Assistant director of the Washington Field Office Andrew McCabe said: “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 victims’ phones and illegally tracking an individual’s every move.”

The FBI obtained a special court order last week to take the app temporarily off-line whilst it investigated, following several complaints.

“This is the first-ever criminal case concerning the advertisement and sale of a mobile device spyware app,” the FBI spokesperson added. “Marketing for the app targeted people suspicious that their spouses or romantic partners might be cheating on them.”

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