The European CEO of a company behind a spyware app called StealthGenie was on Wednesday ordered to pay a $500,000 penalty for selling and promoting the software to US consumers.
The FBI on Tuesday announced its “first-ever” conviction over smartphone spyware app sold to US consumers. The agency didn’t achieve a lengthy jail term for the conviction, but it did secure a guilty plea from the CEO, a citizen of Denmark, who was ordered to pay a $500,000 for his spyware and will need to surrender the app’s source code to the US government.
StealthGenie caught the attention of media late last year, outed as a potential privacy concern around two years after its launch. The app was being promoted to parents, employers and jealous partners as a tool to intercept calls, photos, videos and messages. Users of the app could log into an online portal to review information from the target phone.
According to the FBI, the makers of StealthGenie had unwittingly sold the app to an undercover agent in December 2012, which led to the arrest of Hammad Akbar, a Danish citizen and CEO of the companies InvoCode and Cubitum.
Akbar was arrested this September and indicted in Los Angeles, accused of conspiracy, sale of a surreptitious interception device, advertisement of a known interception device, and advertising a device as a surreptitious interception device.
He was later charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. At the time of Akbar's arrest, the FBI had also seized the StealthGenie website, which was hosted from a datacentre in Virginia.
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