A former Cal State San Marcos student was sentenced to a year in prison this week for wire fraud and other charges related to election tampering by using keystroke loggers to grab student credentials and then vote for himself.
Matthew Weaver, 22, of Huntington Beach, Calif., stole almost 750 students’ identities to try and become president of the San Diego County college’s student government. His plan went awry when the school’s computer technicians noticed an anomaly in activity and caught Weaver with keystroke loggers as he sat in front of the suspicious computer.
In rejecting Weaver’s request for probation, U.S. District Court Judge said the then-business student showed “phenomenal misjudgment” in attempting to rig the election.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, after Weaver was caught in February, he created fictitious Facebook accounts for real students and fabricated online conversations alluding to a frame-up.
“He’s on fire for this crime, and then he pours gasoline on it to try to cover it up,” the judge reportedly said during Monday’s sentencing hearing.
Weaver spent months plotting the election fraud, according to published reports. Federal investigators found a PowerPoint presentation outlining $32,000 in stipends that would come from him winning student government president and four of his fraternity brothers gaining vice presidencies. They also found Web searches such as “how to rig an election” and “jail time for keylogger” and proof Weaver had bought three keyloggers later installed on 19 school computers.
The devices were used to grab 745 passwords, of which 630 were used to cast ballots. On the last day of voting, university technicians remotely accessed a machine and watched votes stream in. By then students had begun complaining to officials that they were unable to log in and vote.
Weaver, who had been one of two candidates for the post, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, unauthorized access of a computer and identity theft and was issued a one-year federal prison sentence. The elections were cancelled and reheld later in the year.
This story’s headline was edited on July 17 to more accurately reflect the nature of the charges.