Friday, June 20, 2008

Student in court for 'hacking' test results

IT could be a long time before Omar Khan goes to college: up to 38 years, say US prosecutors, who have arrested and charged the 18 year old with breaking into his prestigious 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 could spend almost four decades in prison, The Australian reports.

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.


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