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Riverside student hacks into school computers and changes grades, authorities say

A student is accused of tricking his teachers into sharing their personal computer login information by posing as a high-ranking administrative official.
A student is accused of tricking his teachers into sharing their personal computer login information by posing as a high-ranking administrative official.
(Bill O’Leary / Washington Post)

A Riverside high school student could face felony charges after authorities say he tricked his teachers into revealing their computer login information to polish his own grades and worsen others.

Riverside police have asked the county probation department to charge the 15-year-old boy with computer intrusion, saying he posed as a high-ranking administrative official requesting teachers’ usernames and passwords for the school computer system, the Press-Enterprise reported.

When the teachers shared their login information, the student altered his grades with higher marks and also made other students’ grades worse, adding comments such as “sleeps in class,” the news organization reported. The affected students noticed the changes and notified school administrators, who contacted police.

The student, who has not been identified because he is a minor, is believed to attend Encore Junior and Senior High School for the Arts, the Press-Enterprise reported.

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It is unclear if any charges have been filed or when the alleged hack took place. The Riverside Police Department and the Riverside County district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for clarification on Monday.

The case comes after high school students in San Dimas and Newport Beach also have been accused in grade-changing scandals in recent years.

Most notably, a private tutor who was paid by Corona del Mar High School students to hack into their teacher’s computer to change grades and steal tests pleaded guilty in 2015 to 20 felony counts of computer access and fraud and one felony count of commercial burglary.

Timothy Lance Lai pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court and was immediately sentenced to one year in jail and five years’ probation for his role in the cheating scheme. The scandal also led to the expulsion of 11 students and the resignation of a district administrator, who said officials mishandled the case.


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