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Spyware probe couple deported to Israel

Corporate espionage suspects rounded up

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Spyware-for-hire suspects Michael and Ruth Haephrati arrived in Israel on Monday to face industrial espionage charges following their extradition from Britain. The couple, alleged masterminds behind a spyware-linked industrial espionage program, face trial in their native Israel after dropping an appeal against deportation.

Investigators allege the dynamic duo developed and sold customised spyware or Trojan horse packages designed to evade detection by security tools to three private investigation companies in Israel - Modi'in Ezrahi, Zvi Krochmal, and Philosof-Balali, The Jerusalem Post reports. This spyware code was allegedly installed on victims' PCs by private detectives from a diskette or via email, as part of a spying scam that ran for up to two years. The malware sent stolen documents to an FTP site, allowing unscrupulous firms to swipe confidential documents from rivals. Each software installation allegedly netted the Haephratis £2,000.

Firms suspected of using the malware include Mayer Motors (an importer of Volvo and Honda cars) against Champion Motors (an Audi and Volkswagen dealership), satellite television company Yes is accused of spying on rival cable TV outfit HOT, while Israeli mobile phone firms Pelephone and Cellcom are accused of spying Haaretz reports.

The Haephratis are two of 22 people arrested in Israel and the UK in connection with the case, some of who are currently on trial in Israel's Tel Aviv District Court. ®

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