A former ADT home security technician pleaded guilty to charges related to hacking into customers' video feeds to watch their "most intimate moments," federal prosecutors in Texas said on Thursday, Jan. 21. Telesforo Aviles, 35, pleaded guilty to computer fraud and admitted to watching customers for "sexual gratification." He admitted to hacking into over 200 customers' accounts more than 9,600 times over four and a half years.
“This defendant, entrusted with safeguarding customers’ homes, instead intruded on their most intimate moments," Prerak Shah, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement. "We are glad to hold him accountable for this disgusting betrayal of trust." FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno added that Aviles "used his position of employment to illegally breach the privacy of numerous people."
According to the plea documents, Aviles told prosecutors he added his email to customers' "ADT Pulse" accounts, violating the company's policies. This gave him live access to video feeds of their homes. In some cases, he would tell the customers he needed to add his personal emails to "test" their system, but in other cases, he did not tell customers about it at all. He said he "took note of which homes had attractive women," according to prosecutors, and logged into their accounts frequently for "sexual gratification." Aviles "watched numerous videos of naked women and couples engaging in sexual activity inside their homes," prosecutors said. Aviles waived indictment and faces up to five years in federal prison.
In April 2020, ADT announced it was investigating allegations from a customer that a Dallas-area technician added his personal email to get unauthorized access to their account. As soon as the company discovered Aviles' email, they fired him and reported the case to law enforcement. In a May update, the company said it contacted all 220 customers whose video feeds were hacked.
In May, two federal class-action lawsuits were filed against ADT on behalf of the customers, the Dallas Morning News reported at the time. "Moments once believed to be private and inside the sanctity of the home are now voyeuristic entertainment for a third party," the lawsuits read. "And worse, those moments could have been captured, shared with others, or even posted to the internet." The lawsuits were filed in Florida, where ADT's headquarters is located. The lawsuits seek over $5 million in damages, each.
In the lawsuits, customers also accused ADT of trying to get customers to sign a confidentiality agreement after they were notified of the breach, reports BuzzFeed News. One customer claimed she was offered $2,500 and credit for upgraded equipment. When she refused, ADT allegedly increased the offer to $50,000. "In speaking to our customers and apologizing for what happened, it's clear that the employee's abuse of access impacted each customer differently," an ADT spokesperson said. "Therefore, we took steps to address their concerns individually."