Editor’s note: this article would not normally be published here because those involved are outside our coverage area. However, the topic of computer security is so important that we decided to bend the rules.
The following information was released by the Orange County District Attorney.
A computer science student was convicted today of illegally installing “spyware” on six women’s computers without their knowledge or consent to record and access live and still images of them for sexual gratification. Trevor Timothy Harwell, 21, Fullerton, pleaded guilty to six felony counts of computer access and fraud and was sentenced to one year in the Anaheim City Jail, five years of formal probation, and was ordered to complete a Sex Offender Treatment program. A determination regarding whether the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender will be made by the court prior to the completion of Harwell’s probation.
Beginning in June 2009, Harwell enrolled as a computer science major at Biola University and worked at a Brea-based computer technical services and repair shop. Harwell met six victims through friends and his church and gained access to their computers under the pretense of providing computer technical services.
Harwell illegally accessed the six victims’ computers to install “CamCapture” software, which enabled him to record live and still images from a remote computer. Harwell set up alerts to notify him to begin recording when a victim was using her computer. He recorded videos and photographs of each of his victims in various states of undress without their knowledge for his sexual gratification.
Two of the victims, who were sisters, observed that the computer camera was irregularly blinking and took it to be repaired. They were advised that the blinking was due to the installation of CamCapture. The sisters reported the fraudulently installed spyware to the Fullerton Police Department, who investigated this case and identified four additional victims.
The Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (OCRCFL) examined digital evidence pertaining to the six victims in this case. OCRCFL is a full-service forensics laboratory and training center devoted to the examination of digital evidence. It arms law enforcement agencies with the expertise and equipment to combat cyber criminals and respond to the growing number of crimes perpetrated using the Internet, cell phones, and other technology, which provide dangerous criminals greater access to citizens’ personal and private information.
If the court determines that Harwell will be required to register as a sex offender, the defendant will be barred from entering County recreational areas and City parks which have passed the Sex Offender Ordinance. Visit www.orangecountyda.com to read the prior press releases on the County’s Sex Offender Ordinance as well as 13 other cities that have enacted the Child Safety Zone Ordinance. Harwell would be allowed to enter Irvine City parks because its ordinance does not exclude sex offenders whose prior offense was not against a child victim.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Olivieri of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.