Australian man pleads guilty after stalking ex-girlfriend with app that gave him control of her car
A 38-year-old Australian man has pleaded guilty to stalking a woman he’d previously dated for six months.
The man had downloaded an app that allowed him to track the location of the woman’s car, which he used to compile a list of places she frequented as where she might have upcoming appointments.
In addition to location tracking, the unnamed app also allowed him to remotely start and stop the car, unlock the doors, and open and close its windows.
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The 38 year-old man had purchased a Land Rover for the woman during their six month relationship, and he used a smartphone app to keep track of it after they broke up (stock image)
The app sent the man emails about her movements when she was in the car, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The man, who worked for the Royal Australian Corps of Transport, also downloaded a separate spyware app that allowed him to monitor the woman’s phone.
‘What he did is despicable and I am still trying to come to terms with the scope of violation and trauma I have experienced,’ the woman said in court.
The man was a resident of Hobart, the capital of Tasmania.
Because of Australian law, neither the man’s name or woman’s name are given.
The man originally gained access to the car, a Land Rover, because he purchased it for her during their six month relationship.
Because he had purchased the car, he had the Vehicle Identification Number which allowed him to activate the app to track the car.
The woman began to seriously fear for her safety when she woke one night to find the man had broken into her home and was standing silently at the foot of her bed (stock image)
The app is not specified, but is similar to many commonly available apps provided by luxury car manufacturers to control their cars remotely.
The name of the stalkerware app used to track the woman’s phone was also not disclosed.
WHAT IS ‘STALKERWARE?
Stalkerware is software that allows you to spy on someone’s phone or tablet.
They are often advertised to parents who wish to track the online activity of their child, or bosses looking to snoop on their employees.
Typically, stalkware allows you to remotely intercept messages, photos, browsing history, GPS coordinates and even phone call data.
They work by pairing an online account to an app that is installed on the device you wish to spy on.
Users can then remotely access the phone’s data without the owner knowing they are under surveillance.
Stalkerware apps are technically legal, but have stirred controversy in the past when people have employed them for illicit spying.
The woman began to seriously fear for her safety when she woke one night to find the man had broken into her home and was standing silently at the foot of her bed.
After she woke, they remained silent for what ‘seemed like an eternity,’ and then he told her she was lucky that it was only him and not a burglar or worse.
The woman finally discovered he was tracking her remotely when she lost her phone and used an app on her laptop to remotely login to it.
The remote login attempt instead caused his email account to open and she saw the long list of messages he had been sent showing her daily movements.
‘I was in shock and fear for my life when I realized he was stalking me and had control of my car,’ she said.
‘I had no phone to call for help and I didn’t want to tip him off that I was on to him, so I borrowed a phone and called my father.’
After entering a guilty plea, the court will reconvene in December for sentencing arguments.