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Man Pleads Guilty to Using Spyware App to Tap Cellphone

June 6, 2012

Peoria, Ill. – A former Elmwood, Ill., man, David P. Cressy, 49, waived indictment and pled guilty today to an information charging him with using a spyware application to remotely intercept or tap his estranged wife’s cell phone. Cressy appeared before Senior U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade and entered his guilty plea to one count of intercepting electronic and oral communications. Sentencing is scheduled on Oct. 3, 2012.

During today’s hearing and according to court documents, Cressy admitted that he installed the ‘SpyBubble’ app on his wife’s cellphone on Feb. 2, 2012. Using the software, Cressy intercepted cellphone conversations and text messages, recorded conversations using the phone’s microphone, and recorded audio and video within proximity to the phone. Forensic evidence shows that from Feb. 2 through Mar. 28, 2012, Cressy intercepted more than 1,170 text messages sent to and from the victim’s phone, and Cressy admitted that he reviewed more than 3,000 text messages from the victim’s telephone. From Mar. 2 to Mar. 28, 2012, Cressy intercepted approximately 441 oral communications using SpyBubble and the microphone embedded within the victim’s phone.

According to court documents, SpyBubble provides a cellular telephone spy software system and service. Within seconds, the SpyBubble application can be installed onto a cellular telephone. With the application installed, the subscriber can control the phone’s features, including the embedded microphone and video camera, intercept all oral and electronic communications, listen to and monitor the area where the phone is located, record and store audio and video files on servers, track the phone’s geographical location and movement, and more.

In one instance outlined in court documents, on Mar. 3, 2012, when the victim was out of town, at dinner with friends, Cressy intercepted numerous oral conversations through the cell phone’s microphone and, via SpyBubble’s ‘live video’ feature, Cressy activated the cellphone camera to stream live video feeds to the SpyBubble server, and then accessed the video files from his computer. On Mar. 4, Cressy used his own cellphone to play audio tracks for the victim from the dinner the night before. The next day, the victim sought and obtained an Order of Protection against Cressy and Cressy moved from the couple’s home in Elmwood.

However, according to court documents, Cressy admitted that he continued to use SpyBubble to tap the victim’s phone. Cressy admitted that he intercepted conversations that the victim had with her boss, customers of her employer, and with co-workers. On Mar. 19, 2012, prior to a court hearing regarding the Order of Protection, while Cressy was inside a courtroom, he directed SpyBubble to intercept the victim’s conversation with her attorney in the hallway outside the courtroom.

On Mar. 28, shortly after Cressy learned from an intercepted text message that the victim sent to a friend that she was going to take her phone to law enforcement for forensics, Cressy took steps to delete all downloaded files containing audio and video recordings from his computer, and on April 1, Cressy installed an ‘anti-forensics’ utility application on his computer.

The investigation was conducted by the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office and the Peoria Police Department and is being prosecuted in cooperation with the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s Office by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Keith, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of Illinois.

At sentencing, Cressy faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

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