SAN DIEGO -- The creator and several buyers of a computer program designed to
allow jealous lovers to snoop on their sweethearts' online activities have been
indicted for allegedly violating federal computer privacy laws.
Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara, 25, was indicted Friday on 35 counts of manufacturing,
sending and advertising a surreptitious interception device and unauthorized
access to protected computers.
The Loverspy program, disguised as an electronic greeting card showing images
of puppies and flowers, was sent as an e-mail. When it was executed, it would
begin recording victims' e-mail messages and the websites they visited, prosecutors
said. The information would be transmitted to computers operated by Perez-Melara
and relayed to customers, authorities said.
"It was marketed as a way to catch a cheating lover," said Assistant
U.S. Attorney Mitch Dembin.
Four people who bought the program, sold online for $90, were indicted on two
counts each of illegal computer hacking. Each count carries a maximum penalty
of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Authorities said
others were charged in Texas, Hawaii, North Carolina and Missouri.
Dembin said as many as 1,000 copies of Loverspy may have been sold worldwide.
Perez-Melara could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted.