Fullerton Police today (6/8) arrested a man accused of planting a type of spyware on dozens of computers by which he could remotely activate the webcam on laptop computers to take photographs of the women in their homes.
Fullerton Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said Trevor Harwell, 20, a Fullerton resident, was arrested on a warrant at his home.
Goodrich explained Harwell worked for a computer service company called Rezitech, Inc., and provided residential computer service to users with Macintosh computers. “While he had physical access to the computers, he would install a spy ware-type application that allowed him remote access to the user’s computer and webcam,” Goodrich said. He would also work on friends’ computers.
“Once he had access, he would take photographs of the users, usually women. Often, the female victims were undressed or changing clothes. Harwell then stored the photos on a remote server, and eventually downloaded them to his own computer.”
Goodrich estimated hundreds of thousands of images were collected as part of this investigation.
The case came to light in summer 2010 when a Fullerton resident contacted police about suspicious messages that were appearing on his daughter’s computer. Goodrich said one of these messages, which mimicked the appearance of a system message, said “You should fix your internal sensor soon. If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor.” In response to this message, many of the victims would take their laptops into the bathroom while taking a shower.
Goodrich said Harwell serviced computers in both Los Angeles and Orange counties. Fullerton Police have documented numerous victims, all of them adult females. Still images, videos, and cell phone videos of women taken surreptitiously were all seized from Harwell’s computer. Harwell was a student at Biola University at the time, but is no longer attending there or associated with the school. Many of the victims attended Biola University.
Goodrich said Harwell used a program called “Camcapture” that was installed on the victims’ hard drives. Detectives believe Harwell also potentially exploited Macintosh computers that were connected to Biola University’s internal network.
Goodrich said potential victims should search the “/Library/WebServer/Documents” directory for the “Camcapture” program.
Assisting the Fullerton Police Department in the investigation were the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Biola University Public Safety Department.
Persons who believe they may be a victim of Trevor Harwell should contact their local police department or Fullerton Police Detective Kathryn Hamel at (714) 738-5327.