TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) - Police say three Purdue students came up with a high-tech scheme to hack into the school's computer system and change their grades.
Roy Sun, Mitsutoshi Shirasaki, and Sujay Sharma, all 24, face dozens of felony charges, including burglary, computer tampering, and theft.
According to court documents, the three were friends. Shirasaki told police Sun showed him how to tap into his professor's accounts to change grades, back in 2009. When he started failing a class in Spring of 2010, Sun suggested changing his grades.
Court documents show over the course of three years, Sharma would work as a "lookout," while Shirasaki would pick the locks on his professor's office doors, install a "logging device" to their keyboard, then use the information gathered to get their password, and in turn break into the professor's accounts to change their grades.
Documents show more than a dozen grades changed, many from a "D" to an "A" then an "F" to an "A"
One student even received tests from his professors' computers.
Purdue Police Chief John Cox says they started investigating in January of 2013, after a professor noticed his password had been changed without his permission.
Court documents show they followed the changed passwords back to Shirasaki's apartment near campus.
"This was no outside attack. This was some students, who were very smart, who decided to take their knowledge and wisdom and use for things shouldn't have used it for," said Cox.
Police say they don't have any other indicators anyone else was involved, adding their technology officials have looked back over the past few years to ensure this wasn't happening anywhere else.
Officials say they've also worked to ensure the same thing won't happen again, by implementing new security processes.
"A lot of education with the university community about ways to protect yourself, not only your physical space, but also your digital property and digital space, as well as some additional security measures," said Jeffery Stefancic, associate dean of students with Purdue.
Court documents show Roy Sun graduated from Purdue in 2010.
Stefancic says Sun is currently under review for a possible degree revocation. Cox says Sun was attending graduate school at Boston University, and they'd been working with police there to ensure this wasn't going on there as well. Police say they also worked with the FBI.
Stefancic says the other two students, Shirasaki and Sharma, were still students at Purdue, but now are "no longer enrolled" at the university. He says their transcripts will be changed to reflect their actual grades.
After several months of investigating and interviewing the students, prosecutors filed charges in April. Sun is currently in the Tippecanoe County jail, and Sharma has been booked and released. Police say Shirasaki is currently in Japan, and they're working with his lawyer.
All three men face the following charges:
- Conspiracy to commit burglary, a Class C felony
- Conspiracy to commit theft, a Class D felony
- Conspiracy to commit computer tampering, a Class D felony
- Conspiracy to commit computer trespass, a Class A misdemeanor
- Several charges of burglary, Class C felonies
- Several charges of computer tampering, Class D felonies
- Several charges of theft, Class D felonies
- Several charges of receiving stolen property, Class D felonies
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