30-year-old Andrew Meldrum of Crosslet Vale, Greenwich, London, has been found guilty of two counts of voyeurism and three counts of computer hacking. Authorities have accused him of spying on three women after hijacking their webcams.
Meldrum was arrested in November 2012, shortly after a 21-year-old woman contacted police after finding spying software installed on her computer. She told authorities that she suspected Meldrum because he had recently helped her with the computer.
The first victim told another woman, who also knew Meldrum, about the incident. The then 23-year-old also found spyware on her device and contacted the police. The third victim, aged 28, found similar software after being notified by the second woman. She also knew the suspect.
In the case of the third woman, the malicious software had resided on her computer for around 15 months before being discovered.
The suspect was released on bail until the trial that took place last week. He was charged in June 2013.
In addition to the charges of which he was found guilty, Meldrum was found not guilty on one count of theft and one count of voyeurism.
“This was a complex and protracted investigation that involved detailed examination and evaluation of computer files, where crucial evidence was secured,” commented DC Nick Pailthorpe, the investigating officer from Southwark Borough CID.
“I would like to thank all witnesses in this investigation but especially the three victims who gave evidence on matters that were clearly of a private, intimate and personal nature to them,” he added.
“I hope that they can take some consolation in the guilty verdict that sends out a clear message to anyone that this type of intrusion into a person’s private life is not acceptable and the Metropolitan Police will support all victims and pursue all suspects.”
Cybercriminals often tap into users’ webcams, in some cases just for fun, while in others with the intent to later blackmail their victims. However, we recently learned of a number of cases in which the victims had known the perpetrator.
One of the most well-known cases is the one of Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf. She and other women were blackmailed by 19-year-old Jared James Abrahams, of Temecula, California. Abrahams is said to have personally known some of his victims, including Wolf.
The teen is said to have hacked into between 30 to 40 computers with the intention to record intimate photographs and videos of his victims.