stalker

Experts warn of ‘epidemic’ of bugging devices used by stalkers

More funding and legal powers are needed for police to stop a surge of stalkers using eavesdropping devices to spy on victims, experts have warned.

By James Hockaday for Metro.co.uk

 

 

Firms paid to detect the bugs say they’re finding more and more of the devices which are readily available on online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

Jack Lazzereschi, Technical Director of bug sweeping company Shapestones, says cases of stalking and victims being blackmailed with intimate footage shot in secret has doubled in the past two years.

He told Metro.co.uk: ‘The police want to do something about it, they try to, but usually they don’t have the legal power or the resources to investigate.

‘For us it’s a problem. We try to protect the client, we want to assure that somebody has been protected.’

 

People are paying as little as £15 for listening devices and spy cameras hidden inside desk lamps, wall sockets, phone charger cables, USB sticks and picture frames.

Users insert a sim card into a hidden slot and call a number to listen in on their unwitting targets.

People using hidden cameras can watch what’s happening using an apps on their phones.

Jack says the devices are so effective, cheap and hard to trace to their users, law enforcement prefer using them over expensive old-school devices.

Although every case is different, in situations where homeowners plant devices in their own properties, Jack says there’s usually a legal ‘grey area’ to avoid prosecution.

 

The devices themselves aren’t illegal and they are usually marketed for legitimate purposes like protection, making it difficult for cops to investigate.

There is no suggestion online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon are breaking the law by selling them.

But in some instances, images of women in their underwear have been used in listings – implying more sinister uses for the devices.

Even in cases when people are more clearly breaking the law, Jack says it’s unlikely perpetrators will be brought to justice as overstretched police will prioritise resources to stop violent crime.

Jack’s says around 60 per cent of his firm’s non-corporate cases cases involve stalking or blackmail.

He says it’s become an ‘epidemic’ over the past couple of years with the gadgets more readily available than ever before.

Victims are often filmed naked or having sex and threatened with the threat of footage being put online and in the worst cases children are also recorded.

Jack says UK law is woefully unprepared to deal with these devices compared to countries in the Asian-Pacific region.

In South Korea authorities have cracked down on a scourge of perverts planting cameras in public toilets.

James Williams, director of bug sweepers QCC Global says snooping devices used to be the preserve of people with deep pockets and technological know-how.

He said: ‘It’s gone from that to really being at a place where anybody can just buy a device from the internet.

 

‘Anything you can possibly think of you can buy with a bug built into it. I would say they’re getting used increasingly across the board.’

Suky Bhaker, Acting CEO of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which runs the National Stalking Helpline, warned using these gadgets could be a prelude to physical violence.

She said: ‘We know that stalking and coercive control are extremely dangerous and can cause huge harm to the victim, both in terms of their psychological wellbeing and the potential for escalation to physical violence or even murder.

‘The use of surveillance devices or spyware apps by stalkers, must be seen in the context of a pattern of obsessive, fixated behaviour which aims at controlling and monitoring the victim.

 

She added: ‘There should be clarity for police forces that the use of surveillance equipment by stalkers to monitor their victim’s location or communications is a sign that serious and dangerous abuse may be present or imminent.’

‘All cases of stalking or coercive control should be taken seriously and investigated when reported to police.’

The charity is calling for all police forces across the country to train staff in this area.

Earlier this month a policeman known only by his surname Mills was barred from the profession for life for repeatedly dismissing pleas for help from 19-year-old Shana Grice who was eventually murdered by her stalker ex-boyfriend Michel Lane.

 

A spokesman for eBay said: ‘The listing of mini cameras on eBay is permitted for legitimate items like baby monitors or doorbell cameras.

‘However, items intended to be used as spying devices are banned from eBay’s UK platform in accordance with the law and our policy.

‘We have filters in place to block prohibited items, and all the items flagged by Metro have now been removed.’

Amazon declined to comment.

Navy veteran raped schoolgirl and planted hidden camera

Scott Forbes plied a 14-year-old girl with alcohol during sex attacks in Edinburgh.

A former serviceman raped a schoolgirl and sexually assaulted another underage girl 

By STV

Scott Forbes also placed a hidden camera in another victim’s bedroom and recorded footage of her while she was naked and getting dressed.

Jailing him for nine years on Monday, a judge told Forbes, 49, that the corrosive effect of his behavior on victims was “incalculable”.

 Lord Woolman said: “You have altered the course of their lives.”

Forbes, formerly of Firrhill Park, in Edinburgh, was convicted of five offences committed between 2009 and May last year, including rape, sexual assault and possessing and making indecent images of children.

He locked a 14-year-old in a house in Edinburgh and made sexual remarks to the child and molested and raped her and photographed her naked body.

He also plied another 14-year-old with drink, showed her pornography, molested her and took pictures of her naked body while she was intoxicated at an address in Edinburgh on May last year.

Forbes was also found to have set up equipment at a house in Bonnyrigg, in Midlothian, to covertly shoot and record footage of a third victim in April last year.

Lord Woolman also ordered at the High Court in Edinburgh that the Royal Navy veteran should be kept under supervision for an extra four years after his release.

The judge said he had “narrowly” decided against calling for a full risk-assessment report, which can lead to the making of an Order for Lifelong Restriction.

He told Forbes he was prepared to treat him as a first offender and noted that he had medical problems which have prevented him working for the last eight years.

Defence counsel David Nicholson said Forbes continued to deny the serious sexual offending.

Mr Nicholson said Forbes had been on long term sick leave following a variety of health problems.

He told the court that Forbes has a neurological condition and was previously diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

The defence counsel said that arose primarily from Forbes’ service when he was stationed in Iraq and the Arabian gulf.

He added: “He is not somebody with any difficulty with drugs or alcohol.”

Following the sentencing, police praised victims who came forward to give evidence against Forbes.

Detective Sergeant Jonny Wright, of Edinburgh’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Scott Forbes is a devious individual who took advantage of each of the victims’ trust.

“I want to commend their bravery in coming forward, which has led to Forbes’ conviction.

“I would also like to reassure any victims of sexual crime that there is no time limit to reporting offences and we will always investigate.”

Police Scotland added: “Anyone with information about sexual offences can contact Police Scotland on 101, or report this anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Creepy hostel owner caught using remote-controlled cameras hidden inside shampoo bottles to film women in the shower – and then put the clips on porn sites

New Zealand man pleaded guilty to charges related to secretly filming guests 
The court heard the man would film female guests at his homestay property 
He would put hidden cameras in shampoo bottles and upload footage online 

By ADAM MCCLEERY

A New Zealand man has pleaded guilty to secretly filming female guests while they showered at his homestay property by using cameras hidden in shampoo bottles. 

The Hawke’s Bay man faced the Hastings District Court and pleaded guilty to a combined 51 charges. 

The court heard he had made up to 219 recordings of 34 different women who had stayed with him before uploading them to a porn website. 

Stuff reported that the man would allow guests to us the shower in the property, but had to organise times first. 

Once those times were organized, the man would place shampoo bottles with hidden cameras around the bathroom and shower, the court heard. 

He would then use a remote control to turn them on, catching guests in the shower and undressing. 

He would wait until his house guests left the bathroom before retrieving the hidden cameras and uploading footage to his personal hard drive.

Once he had uploaded the videos online, he also encouraged users to leave ‘positive comments’, it was reported.

The court heard the man would caption the videos and describe his victims by race and occupation. 

In one case the man also added his own commentary to a video. 

The man’s identity was suppressed by the court, despite the pleas of crown prosecutor Steve Manning. 

‘There are 34 victims whose most intimate images have been spread all over the world,’ he said.  

The man’s lawyer, Matt Phelps, requested the suppression order to protect the man’s wife who he said suffers from a condition which would be compounded if he were identified,’ the New Zealand Herald reported.

Judge Geoff Rea imposed the suppression order and also granted the man bail pending his sentence at the Napier District Court in October.

The most serious charges the man faces carry a maximum jail term of 14 years.

Man stalked ex-partner using car tracking device and hidden camera

James Austin Yarwood was upset when his six year relationship hit a ‘rough patch’, court told.

A man who monitored his ex-partner’s movements using trackers and hidden cameras has pleaded guilty to stalking.

By Derek Bellis

James Austin Yarwood placed a tracker in her car’s glove compartment and a hidden camera beneath her TV so he could see her sitting on the sofa chatting to a visitor – even though he was at his father’s home in Leicester.

Llandudno magistrates court chairwoman Janet Ellis told the 30-year-old: “We are quite shocked at some of the things we have heard.”

The court heard the 30-year-old monitored the movements of his ex-partner with the aid of electronic devices because he was upset by a “rough patch” in their six-year relationship.

Gareth Parry, prosecuting, said Yarwood had also bombarded the victim with phone calls and texts.

Yarwood, of Lower Denbigh Road, St Asaph, pleaded guilty to stalking teacher Keilah Stewart at her home at Abergele between May and mid-June and was given a year’s community order.

He must pay his victim £200 compensation and costs of £170, with 100 hours of unpaid work and he must undertake a “building better relationships” programme with the probation service.

But she didn’t want a restraining order so he could maintain contact with two children.

Craig Hutchinson, defending, said Yarwood had a good job with a motor company.

“These were the actions of a desperate man trying to keep his relationship together”, he said.

He added: “There may be a time when the relationship will rekindle. The hope is that everyone will put this behind them.”