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Peeping Tom Mac spyware suspect cuffed

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A PC repair technician has been charged with planting spyware on the machines of clients as part of a ruse designed to capture pictures of them in various states of undress.

Trevor Harwell, 20, a former Mac specialist at Los Angeles-area home computer repair outfit Rezitech, allegedly surreptitiously planted a package called Camcapture on machines he fixed. The application notified him via mobile phone when a victim's machine was turned on before displaying bizarre warning messages designed to trick the female victims he targeted into taking their computer with them into a bathroom and disrobing.

These messages included: "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."

Such weird messages were bound to arouse suspicion. Nonetheless Harwell allegedly managed to capture scores of images from webcams, which were uploaded to his home computer. The whole ruse came unstuck when the mother of a young victim complained, putting in train a chain of events that led to a police investigation and a raid on Harwell's residence from officers from Fullerton police. The authorities reportedly recovered thousands of images taken from dozens of victims during this raid.

The LA Times has a write-up of the whole unsavory business in a story here.

As net security firm Sophos notes, the problem of peeping Toms using technology to get their kicks is far from unprecedented. Sometimes perverts use capture images to blackmail victims into posing naked under the threat of publishing images online or sending them to their friends. ®

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