Hacking to rig election earns college student one-year prison sentence

After getting caught red-handed with keyloggers to win a student election, a college student tries to cover it up, and receives jail time as a result.

Matthew Weaver, a 22-year-old former business student at California State University San Marcos, was sentenced to one year in prison this week for using keylogging software to steal 750 fellow students' passwords and vote himself and four of his fraternity brothers into the student government's president and vice president roles. The five positions would have combined to bring the students a combined $36,000 in stipends, the San Diego Union-Tribue reports.

Weaver was caught in February after the the school's technicians spotted strange activity on the campus network and investigated. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the evidence was pretty damning:

On Weaver’s computer, authorities found a PowerPoint presentation from early 2012, proposing that he run for campus president and that four of his fraternity brothers run for the four vice president spots in the student government. The presentation noted that the president’s job came with an $8,000 stipend and the vice presidents each got a $7,000 stipend.

Weaver also had done a bit of research, with computer queries such as “how to rig an election” and “jail time for keylogger.”

Once the school caught onto the scheme, Weaver reportedly turned back to hacking to try to dig himself out of it. The Union-Tribune reports that Weaver created new Facebook accounts in the names of actual classmates, going as far as conducting fake conversations between the accounts to try to deflect blame. That contributed to the one-year prison sentence, which the judge presiding over the case elected even after Weaver pleaded guilty and requested probation.

"That’s the phenomenal misjudgment I can’t get around," Judge Larry Burns said, according to the Union-Tribue. "He’s on fire for this crime, and then he pours gasoline on it to try to cover it up."

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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