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FBI adds Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara, hacker who helped catch cheating lovers, to most wanted list

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Loverspy Hacker
WASHINGTON (AP) - Catching a cheating lover online using commercial spyware seems to be easier than nabbing the hacker behind it.

The FBI this week added to its list of most wanted cybercriminals a former San Diego college student who developed an $89 program called "Loverspy" or "Email PI." Sold online from his apartment, the program would send the suspected cheater an electronic greeting card that, if opened, would install malicious software that could capture emails and instant messages, even spy on someone using the victim's own webcam.

Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara, 33, has eluded authorities since his July 2005 indictment. His last known whereabouts were in El Salvador, where he was born.

"These are sophisticated folks who know how to hide themselves on the Internet," John Brown, a section chief with the FBI who oversees operations in the agency's cyber division, said of Perez-Melara and creators of other "hacking-for-hire" services.

In one case earlier this year, a New York police detective was arrested for spending more than $4,000 on hacking services to obtain the emails of more than a dozen of his colleagues. Many of the operators tend to be based overseas.

The case of Perez-Melara, 33, is noteworthy because he appears to have made relatively little money on the scheme, unlike others on the FBI list who were accused of bilking millions of dollars from businesses and Internet users worldwide. But Perez-Melara, a native of El Salvador who was in the United States on a student visa in 2003 when he sold the spyware, allegedly helped turn average computer users into sophisticated hackers who could stalk their victims.

Loverspy was designed "with stealth in mind, claiming that it would be impossible to detect by 99.9 percent of users," according to a July 2005 federal indictment of Perez-Melara.

Brown said Perez-Melara was added to the FBI most wanted list in part because the former college student has been so difficult to find. The government is now offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

According to his indictment, Perez-Melara sold the software to 1,000 customers, who then tried to infect about 2,000 others. Victims took the bait only about half the time, the government said. People who purchased the spyware were charged with illegally intercepting electronic communications. Most of those cases appear to have resulted in probation and fines.

In addition to hacking-for-hire services, there is an established commercial market for snooping software that domestic violence advocates warn can also be used to stalk victims. Software such as ePhoneTracker and WebWatcher, for example, are advertised as ways to monitor kids' online messages and track their location. For $349 a year, Flexispy of Wilmington, Del., promises to capture every Facebook message, email, text and photo sent from a phone, as well as record phone calls. These services generally would be legal only if the person installing the software also owned the device or were given consent by the owner.

Others identified on the FBI most wanted cyber list includes Alexsey Belan, a Russian, who allegedly broke into the computer networks of three major U.S. e-commerce companies. Belan is accused of stealing the companies' user databases and encrypted passwords, which he then sold. Two others named by the FBI hijacked computers with malware disguised as online advertisements, then sold security fixes to victims. In one case, the loss to consumers was estimated to be $100 million.

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bet2001 November 08 2013 at 7:48 AM

Really? They have nothing better to do than to chase this guy... so stupid.

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joellen835 November 07 2013 at 10:32 PM

These are the kinds of guys they should be hiring to penetrate the computers of our arch enemies, or designing the software for things like Obamacare.....because they could most likely guarantee the privacy of the individual's information. That's one reason why the government shouldn't be running healthcare. They can't even get the programing for it right.

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2 replies
bcrnbs2 joellen835 November 07 2013 at 11:36 PM

trust me, this guy is a pikeer compaired to the guys at the nsa ...

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
JOSEPH bcrnbs2 November 08 2013 at 7:21 AM

No, this guy is most likely much smarter than the NSA people, he just doesnt want to waste his talents making 60k/year. The mosst talented hackers absolutely do not work for the government, that is why they are after him, because they want his talents.

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king Michael joellen835 November 08 2013 at 1:24 AM

Yes, I agree....put him on the Obama care glitch fixing team.

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1 reply
JOSEPH king Michael November 08 2013 at 7:22 AM

Hilarious...good one!

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Brian Workman November 07 2013 at 9:42 PM

This guys really smarter than the average government employee!!!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
beachhobo November 07 2013 at 9:41 PM

if the govt can do it on a massive scale and it all right, why is it wrong to use the same thing to find a cheating wife or husband? i dont see what he did as being a big deal.

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1 reply
joellen835 beachhobo November 07 2013 at 10:33 PM

Oh..........it's always OK for the government to spy on us, but its a crime when someone else does it. It that what you call a "double standard"?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Brian Workman November 07 2013 at 9:40 PM

What awaist of tax payers money$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Elaine November 07 2013 at 9:36 PM

Under these circumstances the NSA should be on the FBI's most wanted list!

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1 reply
ljnace Elaine November 07 2013 at 9:44 PM

At least the NSA has a reason to snoop.

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1 reply
JOSEPH ljnace November 08 2013 at 7:23 AM

And what reason is that? Answer: There is no valid reason, it's yet another example of governmental abuse of powers and financial waste.

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paddleman1928 November 07 2013 at 9:32 PM

this is what the fbi considers a heinous crime? what's next-driving without a seatbelt

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1 reply
JOSEPH paddleman1928 November 08 2013 at 7:24 AM

Or maybe flushing clorox wipes down the toilet?

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toneitup November 07 2013 at 9:20 PM

Can we go after real bad guys? .....Like congress......the white house.... Ya I can keep my old insurance ...right

Flag Reply +4 rate up
skchu1 November 07 2013 at 8:48 PM

That's dumb. Why go after the creator, shall we put God on the FBI's most wanted list too? After all he created the murdering monster known as Man. Clearly the ones to be prosecuted are the ones who actually purchase and use the program for nefarious reasons. There are far scarier "hackers" and such out there than this brilliant guy. I hope they never catch him, because the whole idea of arresting him is ridiculous.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
bbjharch skchu1 November 07 2013 at 9:05 PM

That's like saying why go after the cocaine cartel, just go after the buyers.

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Brutal November 07 2013 at 8:42 PM

It is time to start dealing with Hackers the same way they dealt with horse thieves in the 1800's. I understand someone's horse being stolen became a rare occurance. Just sayin' ...

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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