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Spyware creator – and his customers – indicted

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The creator and several buyers of a keylogging software package marketed as a means of checking up on loved ones, have been indicted in the US for accessing computer systems without authorisation, the Associated Press reports.

Purchasers of the $89 “LoverSpy” software would send their target – a colleague, lover or child – a seemingly harmless electronic greeting card. When opened, the card added software to the targeted computer that would record email messages, chat room conversations, passwords and any other computer activity.

Such software is prohibited in the US under federal wiretapping laws and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In the UK its use would be an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000, better known as RIPA.

The firm behind LoverSpy was closed down in October 2003, but prosecutors have now obtained an indictment against the software’s creator, Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara, 25. His whereabouts remain unknown.

He is charged with 35 counts of “manufacturing, sending and advertising a surreptitious interception device and unauthorised access to protected computers”, according to the Associated Press.

Four purchasers of the software – John J Gannito, 49, Kevin Powell, 54, Cheryl Ann Young, 40, and Laura Selway, 34 – have also been charged by San Diego prosecutors, according to reports.

As many as 1,000 copies of the software are reputed to have been sold by Perez-Melara and investigations are continuing.

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