Threat Management

Student attempting to rig election wins one year in jail

Former California State University San Marcos undergrad Matthew Weaver tried to earn himself the role of student body president by rigging the election, but instead earned himself a year behind bars.

The 22-year-old former senior, of Huntington Beach, Calif., received a one-year sentence last month after pleading guilty in March to wire fraud, identity theft and unauthorized use of a computer, according to the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego.

Weaver admitted to using keyloggers – small electronic devices that record keystrokes on a keyboard – to steal 745 student passwords. He then used that information to cast 630 votes for himself and his friends on the ballot.

Weaver also used collected information to access email and Facebook accounts belonging to his fellow students.

A lighter sentence might have been issued due to the degree of the original crime, which was likened to a “youthful prank” during the proceedings, but U.S District Court Judge Larry Burns said he could not “get around” how Weaver blamed other students and solicited media coverage to claim he was falsely accused, prosecutors said.

Network officials at the university noticed a suspicious amount of votes being cast from a campus computer during the election, and authorities were summoned to investigate, according to prosecutors. Weaver, who was sitting at the suspicious computer, attempted to shut down and evade an officer's questioning.

The police confiscated Weaver's bag, which contained six keyloggers and other evidence of the crime, said prosecutors. A later investigation into Weaver's laptop revealed that the student had searched onlilne for “jail time for keylogger” and “how to rig an election."

Evidence will be heard regarding the losses incurred by Weaver's victims at a restitution hearing scheduled for Aug. 12.

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