Hacker confesses to malware app fraud

A 20-year-old hacker from Amiens in Northern France has been arrested for spreading a virus via smartphone apps that defrauded thousands of people. It is alleged that since 2011, he has stolen tiny sums from 17,000 people, mounting up to approximately 500,000 euros (£405,000).

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The free downloads were designed by the man, who was working from his parents' home, to look like original applications. However, behind the scenes the downloaded apps contained a virus which worked to steal money via hidden transactions. Once the fake applications had been downloaded, the virus sent a text message without the user's knowledge to a premium-rate number set up by the man. He was also able to find log-on codes for gaming and gambling websites subscribed to by the victims.

Android smartphones were the most susceptible.

The hacker, who had apparently never studied computer science, was described by prosecutors as "extremely smart". He told them that he was motivated not by greed, but by a love of computers and an ambition to become a software developer.

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