updated 8/29/2005 2:17:38 PM ET 2005-08-29T18:17:38

The creator and several buyers of a computer program designed to allow jealous lovers to snoop on their sweethearts' online activities have been indicted for allegedly violating federal computer privacy laws.

Carlos Enrique Perez-Melara, 25, was indicted Friday on 35 counts of manufacturing, sending and advertising a surreptitious interception device and unauthorized access to protected computers.

The Loverspy program, disguised as an electronic greeting card showing images of puppies and flowers, was sent as an e-mail. When it was executed, it would begin recording victims' e-mail messages and the Web sites they visited, prosecutors said. The information would be transmitted to computers operated by Perez-Melara and relayed to customers, authorities said.

"It was marketed as a way to catch a cheating lover," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitch Dembin.

Four people who bought the program, sold online for $89, were indicted on two counts each of illegal computer hacking. Each count carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Authorities said others were charged in Texas, Hawaii, North Carolina and Missouri.

Dembin said as many as 1,000 copies of Loverspy may have been sold worldwide.

Perez-Melara could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted.

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