Seven jailed for spying on mobile phone subscribers

Update: May, 08/2015 - 16:15
Defendants at the court. They were accused of spying on 14,140 mobile phone subscribers. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — The Ha Noi People's Court yesterday convicted seven employees of a private technology company for spying on 14,140 mobile phone subscribers.

According to the court verdict, Nguyen Viet Hung, 41, former deputy director of Viet Hong Technology Co Ltd located on To Vinh Dien road in Thanh Xuan District, former head of the company's technical department Le Thanh Lam, 33, and five ex-employees were charged with illegally using information gained from computer, Internet and telecommunication networks.

The court sentenced Hung to 24 months in prison, while the others received suspended sentences ranging from 12 to 20 months.

In 2013, Hung hired these people to create a spy app called Ptracker for the company's clients, who could use the software to track other people's Android phones, read their SMS messages and contact books, record their phone calls, and even turn on features such as cameras, 3G or GPRS connections.

But the customers who bought the software did not know that the data they covertly monitored from their handsets was being transferred to the Viet Hong's server computer, which was at the disposal of the company's employees.

Lam was responsible for writing the software, while the others setup a website to introduce, advertise and offer service packages to make more money from the spyware.

For VND400,000 ($19) per month, Viet Hong's customers could secretly install Ptracker on anyone's smartphone and listen to calls, read text messages, access contacts and even track the owner's movements.

The stolen information was archived on Viet Hong's servers and could be accessed by signing up for a paid account.

The Ptracker app was installed on the mobile phones of 14,140 subscribers, and the company earned VND1 billion (US$46,550) by selling this software. — VNS