Police arrest 'ILOVEYOU' suspect

Philippine police took away a man in handcuffs following a search of the suspected 'ILOVEYOU' author's home
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raided a house at No. 170 Barangay 7, Bagong Housing Project, Zamora St., Pandacan, Manila in connection with the 'ILOVEYOU' virus.

Arrested was suspected author of the virus, Romel Lamores, 30 years old. The suspect is an employee of China Bank. At the moment the NBI is still in the premises collecting evidence and the suspect has been taken to the NBI offices in Manila.

According to a neighbor, Julie Villuaneva, the suspect kept to himself most of the time. AMA Computer College executive vice-president, Ramon Abad disclosed that the computer college is cooperating with the NBI in the investigation. The NBI gave them a set of names to check with their student list. Two names were a match, one was a former student who dropped out while the other was a graduate.

None of the matches was a female. Mr. Abad refrained from disclosing the two names. He emphasised that the college does not encourage its students to create viruses.

Before being led away, the man had been questioned by investigators inside the flat.

NBI chief Federico Opinion said agents had obtained a search warrant after three days of fruitless efforts to seize evidence that might point to the source of the virus which penetrated computers last week, including those of the Pentagon, CIA and British Parliament.

Gil Alnas, chairman of the local residents' council, told reporters outside the raided home that criminal investigators had seized 17 items -- but they did not include a computer.

NBI officials said a search warrant was issued under the Access Device Act, which governs use of codes, account numbers and passwords giving access to different types of devices. The law provides for a maximum punishment of 20 years in jail.

An NBI official has said that the main suspect in the case was a 23-year old woman living in the Pandacan area. Neighbours said a man and a woman with no children lived in the home.

Delay in getting search warrant

The "Love Bug" is the most virulent computer virus ever created. It was quickly traced back to the Philippines and the NBI began surveillance of the suspect, a young computer student from a middle class family, on Saturday.

But authorities were unable to obtain a search warrant until Monday because under its laws hacking is not a crime.

Newspapers said it was the first time the NBI had investigated a case of computer crime and that a lack of experience may have hamstrung detectives.

Earlier, detectives said it was possible the suspect might not be responsible for the computer attack but that her computer had been used.

"It was only (her) computer used to launch the virus that was traced but anybody could use that computer," the official said.

"The user here is invisible, it could be anybody. The difference is that the person we have identified is the registered owner of that computer."

The official also said that given the massive international publicity over the case the suspect could by now have erased evidence from the computer.

Obvious electronic trail

The Washington Post newspaper said the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had traced the virus to the Philippines through a fairly obvious electronic trail and was ready to seize computers used in the attack once it got permission.

FBI agents were assisting the Philippines in the investigation, said Nelson Bartolome, head of the NBI's anti-fraud and computer crimes division.

"They are providing us with technical expertise on computers. They will help analyse the seized evidence, if ever we get it," Bartolome told Reuters.

In Sweden, a computer expert said on Saturday he believed an 18-year-old German exchange student in Australia was responsible for the virus.

Australian Federal Police said on Sunday they had been given no firm evidence to back up the allegation.

Reuters contributed to this report

It seems that most of the world is still reeling from the shock of the cutely and seductively named ILOVEYOU virus. Go with Peter Coffee to AnchorDesk UK and read the news comment to find out how easy it was and the perils that lie ahead.

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