FBI Wants Hacker Who Helped Catch Cheating Lovers

It's not just the federal government intercepting your communications. It could be a nosy relative or jealous partner.

Among five individuals added this week to the FBI's list of most wanted cybercriminals is a former San Diego college student who developed an $89 program dubbed "Loverspy" and "Email PI." Sold online from his apartment, the program was advertised as a way to catch a cheating lover by sending the person an electronic greeting card that, if opened, would install malicious software that captured emails and instant messages, or even spy on the person through their webcam.

The case of Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara, 33, is noteworthy because he appears to have made relatively little money on the scheme, unlike others on the FBI list accused of bilking millions of dollars from businesses and Internet users worldwide. Perez-Melara was a native of El Salvador in the United States on a student visa in 2003 when he sold the spyware. He was accused of helping turn average computer users into sophisticated hackers who could use the information to stalk their victims.

Loverspy was designed "with stealth in mind, claiming that it would be impossible to detect by 99.9 percent of users," according to a July 2005 federal indictment of Perez-Melara.

An FBI section chief who oversees operations in the agency's cyber division, John Brown, said Loverspy was one of many illegal hacking-for-hire services available online. In one case earlier this year, a New York police detective was arrested for spending more than $4,000 on hacking services to obtain the emails of more than a dozen of his colleagues. Many of the operators tend to be based abroad.

"These are sophisticated folks who know how to hide themselves on the Internet," Brown said.

Brown said Perez-Melara was added to the FBI most wanted list in part because the former...

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