A 20 year old hacker has been arrested in northern France after creating and spreading a virus via smartphone apps that defrauded thousands of victims. The hacker grabbed about 500,000 euros from his victims before being caught.
Prosecutors say he stole tiny sums from 17,000 people, amassing about 500,000 euros (£405,000) since 2011.
Working from his parents’ home in northern France, he snared victims with free downloads designed to look like original applications, they say.
The apps would then work in the background, working to steal money via hidden transactions. The apps would send text messages to a premium rate number the hacker has set up.
BBC’s Christian Fraser reports that smartphones running Google’s Android operating system appeared to be the most vulnerable to the scam. Programs the hacker planted also allowed him to grab the logins for gaming and gambling websites his victims subscribed to.
Authorities say the hacker had not studied computer science, but was “extremely smart”.
The hacker admitted his crimes after being arrested in the northern city of Amiens. He reportedly said the crimes were not motivated by greed, but from a love of computers, and his ambition to become a software developer.