Friday, February 23, 2007

19-year-old uncovers child predators

The mystery hacker whose online infiltration has led to several arrests of suspected child predators -- including a California superior court judge -- was a 19-year-old loner who penetrated 3,000 computers around the world from his parents' basement in Langley, B.C.

In all of this, the Canadian hacker has remained anonymous, even in police affidavits -- until now.

Dubbed "Citizen Tipster" by police, Brad Willman, spent night after night writing a Trojan Horse program that gave him complete control over every computer that downloaded it.

Alone and in the dark, he sat for up to 16 hours a day monitoring hundreds of targets, secretly reading their e-mail and tracking their every step online.

He started keeping files on the targeted users. He tracked them for almost three years --recording everything. The majority of his targets were ordinary people -- but some in the files included priests, social workers, soldiers, police officers and justice officials.

He catalogued each file by degree of risk and focused on suspected child-porn producers and molesters.

Though never publicly credited, Omni-Potent is the same mystery hacker who led the Mounties to the capture and conviction of an Alberta man who offered his eight-year-old daughter up for sex through the Internet in 1999.

The hacker's investigations have exposed suspected child predators across Canada, the United States and Russia. Some of the suspects included foster parents, social workers and justice officials.

This was his life. He had no friends in school and skipped the prom. Even these days, his only entertainment away from the computer is going to the odd movie, alone.

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