Student hackers face 20 years in jail

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Two students have been charged with hacking into the California State University database and changing their grades..

John Escalera worked at the university helpdesk and is alleged to have gained access to administrative controls in the PeopleSoft student database by setting up false accounts in the names of the registrar and academic records co-ordinator.

Escalera is accused of changing his own grades and those of his friend Gustavo Razo Jr in exchange for cash.

"In or about the summer of 2003 officials at Fresno State ran a routine audit," reads the indictment (PDF).

"During this routine audit, university officials noticed discrepancies between the two systems in terms of grades. In January 2005, a greater audit was performed by Fresno State based on information received from the first audit."

The pair face a potential 20-year jail term and fines of up to US$250,000 for wire fraud and identity theft. They have entered not guilty pleas and their trial will begin later this month.

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