FULLERTON (CBS) — Police say they’ve arrested a 20-year-old computer technician on suspicion of planting spyware on dozens of computers to secretly watch the owners via their webcams.
Trevor Timothy Harwell was arrested Wednesday after being charged with a dozen counts of illegal computer access and fraud, Fullerton police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said. While working for Rezitech Inc., Harwell visited the homes of customers to service their Macintosh computers, Goodrich said.
KNX 1070’s Mike Landon reports on the former Biola University student who spied on girls by hacking into their webcams.
“While he had physical access to the computers, he would install a spyware-type application that allowed him remote access to the user’s computer and webcam,” Goodrich said, adding Harwell also worked on the computers of friends.
“Once he had access, he would take photographs of the users, usually women,” Goodrich said. “Often, the female victims were undressed or changing clothes.”
Harwell allegedly collected hundreds of thousands of images, storing them on a remote server and eventually downloading them to his own computer. Court records show the crimes date to June 2009.
Police got wind of the crimes when a Fullerton man reported his daughter’s computer displaying suspicious messages such as: “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.”
Responding to the message, many victims took their laptops into the bathroom while taking a shower, Goodrich said.
Harwell worked on computers in Los Angeles and Orange counties, where there are multiple victims, Goodrich said.
Investigators seized images, video and cell phone video of women allegedly taken by Harwell and stored on his computer.
Many of the victims attend Biola University, a private Christian school in La Mirada, where Harwell took classes, Goodrich said. Harwell is no longer enrolled there.
Harwell also is accused of installing a spyware program on the hard drives of computers connected to Biola University’s network.
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