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Sep 30, 2014 03:00 PM

FBI Arrests StealthGenie Mobile Spyware App Maker, Disables Website

The maker of a smartphone app that could surreptitiously monitor calls, texts, and videos on mobile phones was indicted in Virginia for allegedly conspiring to advertise and sell the spyware ...

FBI Arrests StealthGenie Mobile Spyware App Maker, Disables Website

The maker of a smartphone app that could surreptitiously monitor calls, texts, and videos on mobile phones was indicted in Virginia for allegedly conspiring to advertise and sell the spyware application.

Hammad Akbar, the chief executive officer of Pakistan-based InvoCode Pvt Ltd, the company that advertised and sold StealthGenie online, was arrested in Los Angeles Saturday, September 27. The 31-year-old Pakistani man was charged with conspiracy and sale of a surreptitious interception device. StealthGenie spyware could intercept communications to and from mobile phones and was marketed as largely undetectable and untraceable.

In announcing the charges, officials said the spyware technology could be employed to invade the privacy of unwitting victims. Purchasers of the app would need only a few minutes to download and install it on a victim’s mobile phone for full access to the phone’s communication functions.

“This application allegedly equips potential stalkers and criminals with a means to invade an individual’s confidential communications,” said Andrew McCabe, assistant director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which is investigating the case. “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.”

StealthGenie’s capabilities included recording and intercepting calls and monitoring e-mails, text messages, voicemails, photos, videos, and calendar appointments. The software could also activate a victim’s phone to eavesdrop on conversations within a 15-foot radius. All the communications could be viewed on a web-based dashboard.

The spyware technology was hosted at a data center in Ashburn, Virginia. The FBI temporarily disabled StealthGenie’s website following a federal restraining order issued Friday, September 26.

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

“Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim’s life—all without the victim’s knowledge,” said Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Determining if your phone contains the spyware can be difficult—the spyware app could be installed to look like another app or file. Possible options include enlisting other apps—or private computer forensics companies—to scan your mobile device for malicious software. In a public service announcement about StealthGenie, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complain Center (IC3) said the best option for people concerned that their mobile phones contain the spyware would be to conduct a “factory reset” of the device, which removes all data and apps and restores the mobile phone to its original condition. Be sure to first back-up the data you want to save.

- Press release
- IC3 public service announcement

Sep 30, 2014 01:00 PM

Help Us Catch the AK-47 Bandit

A reward of up to $100,000 is being offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect who shot and wounded a California police officer after robbing a bank in 2012 ...

Help Us Catch the AK-47 Bandit


During what authorities believe was his first bank robbery nearly three years ago in Chino, California, the AK-47 Bandit—so named because he carries an assault rifle during takeover-style robberies—shot and seriously wounded a police officer while making his escape. Since then, he has robbed or attempted to rob five more banks, most recently in August, when he hit a rural bank in Nebraska.

“He has shown he is not afraid to shoot someone, and experience tells us he is not going to stop robbing banks until we catch him,” said Special Agent Kevin Boles, who is working the case out of our Los Angeles Field Office. “We feel like we are racing the clock on this guy,” Boles said. “If we don’t get him soon, things could end badly and someone else might get hurt.”

That’s why we are asking for the public’s help and renewing our publicity campaign regarding this violent criminal. There is a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the AK-47 Bandit.

Full story, poster, video, and audio

Sep 24, 2014 12:00 PM

FBI Releases Study on Active Shooter Incidents

The FBI has released a study of 160 active shooter incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013 throughout the United States.

FBI Releases Study on Active Shooter Incidents

Active Shooter Study CoverThe FBI has released a study of 160 active shooter incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013 throughout the U.S. The primary purpose of the study? To provide our law enforcement partners—normally the first responders on the scene of these dangerous and fast-moving events—with data that will help them to better prepare for and respond to these incidents, saving more lives and keeping themselves safer in the process.

But we believe the information contained in this study can benefit anyone who could potentially be in an active shooter situation—like emergency personnel, employees of retail corporations and other businesses, educators and students, government and military personnel, members of the general public, etc.—by giving them a better understanding of how these incidents play out.

Full story and study

Sep 23, 2014 04:00 PM

FBI Announces Biometrics Suite’s Full Operational Capability

Agencies searching the FBI’s criminal history record database for matches to their subjects are getting faster and more accurate responses—the result of the Bureau’s 10-year effort to improve its ...

FBI Announces Biometrics Suite’s Full Operational Capability


Agencies searching the FBI’s criminal history record database for matches to their subjects are getting faster and more accurate responses—the result of the Bureau’s 10-year effort to improve its ability to provide law enforcement partners with timely, high-quality identification.

Earlier this month, the FBI announced the Next Generation Identification system, or NGI, is now at full operational capability. The system replaced the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), the Bureau’s longstanding repository for fingerprints. NGI’s incremental roll-out, which began in 2010, has already seen significant improvements in accuracy rates on queries, the result of new high-tech tools and algorithms that more effectively search more than 100 million records. Fingerprint matches are now better than 99 percent accurate, and hits on latent prints (prints lifted from crime scenes, for example) have tripled from 27 percent accuracy in the old IAFIS system to more than 81 percent today.

Full story

Sep 18, 2014 04:15 PM

Alleged Pennsylvania Gunman Added to Top Ten List

Eric Matthew Frein—the alleged shooter of two Pennsylvania State Police troopers—has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

Alleged Pennsylvania Gunman Added to Top Ten List


The alleged shooter of two Pennsylvania State Police troopers has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Eric Matthew Frein, a 31-year-old white male with ties to the mid-Atlantic region—including the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York—faces state charges of homicide, homicide of a law enforcement officer, and attempted murder, as well as a federal unlawful flight to avoid prosecution charge. He is considered armed and extremely dangerous.

The shootings occurred on September 12, 2014, when a gunman ambushed the two officers at the Pennsylvania State Police Blooming Grove Barracks in Pike County, Pennsylvania. Corporal Byron Dickson, 38, was fatally shot, and Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, was critically wounded. The subsequent investigation linked Frein to the shootings.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to the arrest of Frein. If you have any information, call the Pennsylvania State Police at (866) 326-7256, or contact your nearest FBI office.

Frein is the 503rd person to appear on the Top Ten list since it was created in 1950. Since then, 472 fugitives have been apprehended or located, 156 of them as a result of citizen cooperation.

Wanted poster | Press release | Wanted by the FBI Podcast

Sep 18, 2014 12:30 PM

Senior Citizens Targeted in Sweepstakes Fraud

A North Carolina couple recently pled guilty to running a sweepstakes fraud scheme that targeted elderly Americans, in some cases causing victims to lose their entire life savings.

Senior Citizens Targeted in Sweepstakes Fraud

Senior Citizen on Cell Phone

North Carolina couple Jessica and Jason Brown recently pled guilty to running a sweepstakes fraud scheme that targeted elderly Americans, in some cases causing victims to lose their entire life savings. The Browns acknowledged in federal court that they operated call centers in Costa Rica that falsely informed U.S. residents—predominantly senior citizens—that they had won a substantial cash prize in a global sweepstakes, but the prize was only redeemable if the “winners” sent money to cover insurance and other fees. From 2004 until 2013, the Browns and their crew fleeced hundreds of elderly Americans out of nearly $900,000.

Full story

Sep 17, 2014 04:00 PM

Director Briefs Congress on Homeland Threats and FBI Response

Today, Director Comey testified before a congressional committee on the FBI’s efforts to combat threats against our nation, specifically focusing on our counterterrorism and cyber programs and our ...

Director Briefs Congress on Homeland Threats and FBI Response


Today, Director Comey testified before a congressional committee on the FBI’s efforts to combat threats against our nation, specifically focusing on our counterterrorism and cyber programs and our continued integration of intelligence and operations.

In his prepared statement for the committee, Comey—noting that the instability caused by geopolitical conflict zones in the world may be used by terrorist groups to recruit and incite acts of violence—talked about the continuing threat in the U.S. of homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) who are inspired by terrorist ideology. To confront this threat, Comey stressed the importance of our 103 Joint Terrorism Task Forces—composed of investigators, analysts, linguists, and experts from U.S. law enforcement and intelligence partners—as well as the Bureau’s Countering Violent Extremism Office, which works with federal counterparts to empower our local partners to help prevent the terrorist actions of HVEs. Comey also discussed the cyber threats facing the U.S., not only from terrorists but from state-sponsored hackers, hackers for hire, and global cyber syndicates. He highlighted our work with federal, state, and local partners on cyber task forces in each of our field offices as well as the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, and our exchange of information on cyber threats with the private sector—including a recently deployed malware repository and analysis system for intelligence, law enforcement, and—later this year—corporate and academic partners.

Comey emphasized that the FBI carries out every aspect of our mission while upholding the privacy, confidentiality, civil rights, and civil liberties of the citizens we serve.

Appearing alongside Comey at the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee hearing were Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen.

Full testimony

Sep 16, 2014 03:45 PM

Murder-for-Hire Plot Uncovered

It’s a novel way to have your debt forgiven—hire a hit man to kill your creditor. However, it’s also illegal. Just ask Illinois businessman Daniel Dvorkin, who recently received a federal prison term ...

Murder-for-Hire Plot Uncovered

Hit ManIt’s a novel way to have your debt forgiven—hire a hit man to kill your creditor. However, it’s also illegal. Just ask Illinois businessman Daniel Dvorkin, who recently received a federal prison term for attempting to arrange such a murder to get out of an $8.2 million debt.

Full story

Sep 12, 2014 06:00 PM

Money Laundering Takedown

In a major takedown in Los Angeles on Wednesday, September 10, nearly 1,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers seized approximately $100 million in cash, arrested nine subjects, and ...

Money Laundering Takedown


In a major takedown in Los Angeles on Wednesday, September 10, nearly 1,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers seized approximately $100 million in cash, arrested nine subjects, and searched dozen of businesses in the city’s downtown fashion district alleged to have laundered money for Mexican drug cartels.

The ongoing investigation—three indictments were unsealed Wednesday—is specifically aimed at the Sinaloa Cartel and its activities, including narcotics trafficking, hostage taking, and money laundering in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the U.S. and Mexico.

Full story

Sep 09, 2014 04:30 PM

Justice in Labor Trafficking Case

A woman’s arrest for shoplifting led authorities to the Ohio home where she—and her young daughter—had been held captive for more than two years.

Justice in Labor Trafficking Case


In October 2012, a young woman was arrested by police in Ashland, Ohio for shoplifting a candy bar. But when she explained why she stole the candy, her story concerned the officers, and, eventually—after additional information was obtained—the Cleveland FBI opened a federal investigation into the matter.

It turned out that the young woman, who was cognitively disabled, was being held against her will and forced to perform manual labor for a couple who lived in a multi-dwelling house not far from the store where she was arrested. And it wasn’t just the woman herself being held—it was her young daughter as well. Mother and daughter had been living in the apartment—in squalid conditions and enduring constant threats—since August 2010. The withholding of food was just one of the methods their captors used to control them.

Full story