A computer repairman was arrested Wednesday for allegedly planting spyware on dozens of computers he fixed and remotely taking hundreds of photos of women in their homes partially clothed or naked.
Trevor Harwell, 20, a technician for Rezitech Inc., provided home computer services to users with Macintosh computers, said Fullerton Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.
Harwell went to elaborate lengths to ensure that he got lurid images, even convincing users through system messages that they needed to take their computers into steamy environments, such as near their showers, Goodrich said.
"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.
He also would work on friends' computers.
"Once he had access, he would take photographs of the users, usually women," Goodrich said. "Often, the female victims were undressed or changing clothes."
He said Harwell then stored the photos on a remote server and eventually downloaded them to his own computer.
The department estimated that hundreds of thousands of images were collected as part of the investigation, and they are seeking out victims.
The lurid repair ploy first came to light last summer when a Fullerton resident contacted police about suspicious messages appearing on his daughter's computer, Goodrich said.
One message mimicked the appearance of a system message and read: "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."
The message led many victims to take their laptops into the bathroom while taking a shower, Goodrich said.
Harwell serviced computers in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Fullerton police say they have documented numerous victims, all of them women.
Still images, videos and cellphone videos of women taken surreptitiously were all seized from Harwell's computer.
Harwell was a student at Biola University at the time but no longer attends the school. Goodrich said many of the victims attended the university.
Harwell used a program called Camcapture that was installed on the victims' hard drives, Goodrich said.
Detectives also believe Harwell may have exploited Macintosh computers that were connected to Biola's internal network. The sergeant said potential victims should search the "/Library/WebServer Documents" directory for the Camcapture program.