Student 'caught hacking results', prosecutors say

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Student 'caught hacking results', prosecutors say

Post  Jennie on Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:58 pm

Student 'caught hacking results', prosecutors say

June 20, 2008 08:22am

IT could be a long time before Omar Khan goes to college: up to 38 years, say Orange County prosecutors, who have arrested and charged him with breaking into his high school and hacking into computers to change his test grades from Fs to As.

If convicted on all 69 counts, including altering and stealing public records, computer fraud, burglary, identity theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy, Mr Khan, 18, could spend almost four decades in prison.

He was being held on $US50,000 ($53,000) bail and was set to appear in court today.

Mr Khan's defence lawyer, Carol Lavacol, described her client as "a really nice kid".

"There's a lot more going on than meets the eye," she said.

Prosecutors claim that between January and May, Mr Khan, who lives in Coto de Caza, one of Orange County's oldest and most expensive gated communities, repeatedly broke into Tesoro High School.

In an alleged plot that resembles the script to the 1986 high school comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, prosecutors claim he used teachers' passwords to hack into computers and change his test scores.

In at least one test, an English exam, Mr Khan had received an F grade because he was caught cheating.

Prosecutors claim the teenager, who is alleged to have broken into the school at night with a stolen master key, changed the grades of 12 other students and installed spyware on school hard drives that allowed him to access the computers from remote locations.

Tesoro High has 2800 pupils and often appears in Newsweek magazine's annual list of best high schools.

Mr Khan's plan, the prosecution argued, was to get a place at one of the colleges within the University of California system.

When his application was rejected, he requested copies of his student records, so he could appeal.

However when teachers noticed all the A grades that had magically appeared next to all the courses he had taken, they realised something was wrong.

Mr Khan is accused of stealing master copies of tests, some of which were emailed to dozens of students.

The case has once again raised the question of whether technology - in particular mobile phones that can access the internet - has resulted in an epidemic of cheating in high schools.

Another student, Tanvir Singh, also 18, is accused of conspiring with Mr Khan and faces up to three years in prison.

The pair allegedly exchanged text messages last month while organising a break-in.

- The Times
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