The FBI is investigating whether federal law violations took place following allegations a candidate for student body president at California State University San Marcos stole some 700 student identities in an attempt to alter election results.
Third-year business student Mark Weaver was arrested last month on suspicion of election fraud, unlawful access to a computer or database and 10 counts of identity theft, according to the North County Times. The newspaper also said Weaver, who posted bail the day after being jailed, was not officially charged with a crime.
Weaver gained notoriety during his candidacy because of his reported affiliation with a controversial underground campus newspaper that bills itself as a humor publication. Critics claim the satire frequently strays into hate speech and misogyny.
Cal State San Marcos authorities were alerted to possible voter tampering in mid-March after a network administrator noticed suspicious activity on a university computer. Campus police later found Weaver logged into that school computer and “in possession of a device that can be used to steal computer passwords” — a keystroke logger.
Students receive unique usernames and passwords to manage class schedules and to vote online in elections. Weaver’s arrest came during the four-day voting period in which he was one of two official candidates on the ballot for Associated Students Inc. president. School officials later canceled election results, saying the electoral process had been compromised. A special election is now scheduled for May 7 through 10.
A university spokeswoman said this is the largest identity theft case to take place at the northern San Diego County campus since its founding in 1989. Another school official told the local newspaper the compromised accounts were “locked down” and victims notified.
Last week an FBI official confirmed it was looking into possible federal violations.
“I can’t say exactly what we are looking at, but given the facts and circumstances that have been reported to us, it appears there may be violations of federal laws,” said FBI Special Agent Darrel Foxworth.