Plenty of cybercriminals hack for profit, fame, or just because they can. But according to the National Crime Agency (NCA)—essentially the UK's version of the FBI—one newly convicted crook claimed he was "addicted" to breaking into peoples' webcams, mostly to watch the unsuspecting victims carry out sexual acts.
The NCA announced Thursday that Stefan Rigo, 33, from Leeds, was arrested in November 2014 as part of a spate of busts targeting users of remote access trojans, or RATs: pieces of software that allow an attacker to take control of a target's computer. Five other UK arrests were made from the same Europol-coordinated operation, an NCA spokesperson told Motherboard.
Rigo paid for the RAT, in this case a tool named Blackshades, with his ex-girlfriend's credit card, according to the NCA press release. Blackshades is sometimes used to steal banking details, and pinch passwords to email accounts.
When police busted Rigo, however, they found sexually explicit screenshots of other people's private Skype video calls, as well as pictures taken through victims' hacked web cams.
Rigo "admitted to being addicted to monitoring people via their computers."
One image was of a male and female, "basically engaging in cybersex," the NCA spokesperson said, while another was of "a male masturbating." Some of the pictures were also of people just sat in front of their computers, not doing anything sexual, they added.
During a trial last month, Rigo detailed how he had spent 5 to 12 hours each day, over a three year period, watching people through his computer.
"It was in the court room, rather than under interview [with the NCA], that he disclosed that part," the spokesperson said. The NCA's release explains he "admitted to being addicted to monitoring people via their computers."
"It's certainly one of the more extreme examples—the sheer amount of time he was spending watching people," the spokesperson added.
Rigo was found guilty of voyeurism offences, and was sentenced to a 40-week suspended sentence, seven years on the sex offenders register, and 200 hours of volunteer work, and he also had to give up all of his computer equipment. Rigo also pled guilty to Computer Misuse Act offences, which is the UK's hacking law.
Whatever Rigo's motivation, the case acts as a good reminder that taping up your web cam might not be such a bad idea.