A young man was arrested in Northern France after defrauding 17,000 people with a virus hidden in applications for handsets.
In less than two years, the 20-year-old managed to steal from thousands of people small amounts of money that added up to a total of 500,000 euros.
He used his parentsâ€™ residence in France to con victims into downloading applications advertised as free. Under a camouflage of original apps, the rogue software was designed to make hidden transaction and siphon from as many people as possible petty sums of money that wouldnâ€™t draw the attention of the victims.
Once downloaded, the phony application would silently send a text message to a pre-set premium-rate number. Apparently, some applications were also looking to collect victimâ€™s log-in credentials for gaming or gambling online locations.
â€œIt appears smartphones that use Google software were the most susceptible”, says the BBC’s Christian Fraser in Paris.
Police apprehended the hacker in Amiens, Northern France and obtained a full confession from him. Even though he didnâ€™t study computer science in school, the young man, characterized by the police as extremely smart, always wanted to be a software developer and explained his deeds were never motivated by greed.