Orange County Students Accused of Hacking School Computers

Officials believe a private tutor provided students with a hacking device to access school computers

By Andrew Lopez and Vikki Vargas
|  Thursday, Dec 19, 2013  |  Updated 9:16 PM PDT
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Police believe a 28-year-old private tutor may have helped students hack into their teachers' computers to change grades and peek at tests. Vikki Vargas reports from Newport Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2013.

Vikki Vargas

Police believe a 28-year-old private tutor may have helped students hack into their teachers' computers to change grades and peek at tests. Vikki Vargas reports from Newport Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2013.

After a group of students allegedly hacked into their school's computers to change grades and peek at tests, police want to talk to a private tutor who they suspect may have taught the students how to break into the system.

Officials said Timothy Lance Lai, 28, may have given students at Corona del Mar High School a hacking device and instructions on how to use it, according to a statement released by the Mesa Unified School District.

"We are shocked and disappointed by the unethical and irresponsible behavior exhibited by the involved students," the district said in the statement. 

The students involved face disciplinary actions at the school, officials said.

Investigators believe at least a dozen students hacked into their teachers' computers using a device called a key logger, which plugs into the back of a computer and records every keyboard stroke.

A school with about 2,500 students, Corona del Mar High School boasts of its academic achievements and said some 99 percent of its graduates go on to college.

The district said it is cooperating fully with the Newport Beach Police Department in the investigation.

It is unclear how students were able to gain access to staff computers, and school officials do not believe any staff members were involved in the hacking.

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