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US school cheat hack suspect faces 38 years jail

'If we played by the rules right now we'd be in gym?'

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Updated A pair of US teens are looking at an extended spell behind bars over accusations they hacked into school computers to change their grades.

Omar Khan, 18, a student at Tesoro High School in Orange County, California, allegedly changed failing grades to As for himself and others using the purloined login credentials of teachers. According to prosecutors, Khan planted spyware on teachers' computers in order to steal their passwords. Khan allegedly broke into school buildings either late or night or at the weekends to change his grades in a bid to gain an undeserved place at University.

School administrators called in the cops after noticing changes in Khan's previously mediocre grades. Another student, Tanvir Singh, 18, allegedly conspired with Khan in an abortive attempt to break into school and steal a test. The dynamic duo were caught by a school caretaker in the process of trying to log onto a teacher's computer.

Prosecutors have thrown the book at Khan over his escapades, which recalls a similar incident in cult hacksploitation flick War Games, charging him with 69 offences including computer hacking, burglary, identity theft and receiving stolen property. If convicted on all counts Khan faces a possible maximum sentence of 38 years behind bars.

Singh has been charged with computer hacking, burglary and conspiracy offences punishable on conviction by up to three years inside. Police said the investigation into cheating at Tesoro High may lead to further arrests.

Both the students, who were due to graduate on Wednesday, face hearings at Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach instead.

Local paper the Orange County Register has the full run down on the story here. The criminal complaint against Khan can be found here (pdf). ®

Bootnote

An earlier version of this story compared Khan's alleged misdeeds to the events in film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. But the hack in Ferris Bueller involves breaking into a head teacher's computer remotely to change attendance records, not grades, so the War Games analogy is more accurate.

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