Cheating in school: it usually gets you a crack on the wrist. Or maybe official “censure” in the loftier realms of university. But jail time?
The West Midlands Police get an ‘A’ for effort in punishment class for putting Imran Uddin behind bars for four months, for using a keylogger to hack into faculty accounts to change his grades.
The 25-year-old married University of Birmingham student upped five exam marks in an effort to avoid flunking his final year of a bio-science course, including changing a score from a 57 to a 73. He was expecting to achieve at least a lower second-class degree; but Uddin gets an ‘F’ in cheating class, because he didn’t cover his tracks very well.
After making several eBay searches from his home computer for “keyboard cheating devices” (stealth is clearly not a strong suit), he apparently succeeded, installing physical keyloggers on various university computers in order to record keystrokes for staff passwords in an effort to gain access to the university marking system.
Last October, one of the devices was found plugged into the back of a PC during a routine upgrade on a computer in the bio-science building. Three other spy gadgets were then found after other university computers were checked out, including one that gave Uddin the plum info that he needed to attain his un-earned university dreams: the password of one Christine Chapman, an employee who had access to exam grade software. He was able to gain her credentials via a computer in a 'staff only' area.
Uddin has been jailed at Birmingham Crown Court after pleading guilty to six violations of the Computer Misuse Act. According to the Telegraph, Uddin is thought to be the first-ever British student to be jailed for cheating. The judge explained that he meant to make an example of him.
“For reasons not entirely clear to me, whether it was monetary, or pride or a desire to out-perform others, you decided to cheat and you formed a settled intention to do that,” Judge James Burbidge QC told the defendant. “I consider your actions were planned and persistent. This kind of conduct undermines or has the potential to undermine public confidence in the degree system, set up by this university. I have decided I cannot pass a suspended sentence because there needs to be an element of deterrence.”
Balbir Singh, counsel for Uddin, portrayed him as a kid with a lot of pressure on his back, the only member of his family who had gone to university, and married and struggling. “He could not see clearly,” he said.