Man accused of planting spyware to photograph women

LOS ANGELES Thu Jun 9, 2011 11:18am EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A 20-year-old California man was arrested on Wednesday, accused of planting spyware on dozens of computers to secretly photograph women in a state of undress, police said.

Trevor Harwell was taken into custody at his home in Fullerton, where detectives found hundreds of thousands of the pictures on his computer, Fullerton Police Spokesman Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said.

Harwell is accused of installing the program, which gave him remote access to the user's computer and webcam, while working as a technician for a local computer repair company, Goodrich said.

"Once he had access, he would take photographs of the users, usually women. Often, the female victims were undressed or changing clothes," Goodrich said.

Harwell then allegedly stored the photos on a remote server and eventually downloaded them to his own computer.

Police say they began investigating Harwell after a Fullerton resident contacted authorities over a suspicious message on his daughter's computer.

The message mimicked a system error advising her of a problem with an "internal sensor" and advised: "If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor."

Goodrich said many users who got a similar message took their laptops into the bathroom while they showered, where Harwell allegedly photographed them undressing or naked.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb. Edited by Peter Bohan)

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