Former Rackham alum Ning Ma seemed like just another student walking around on campus. But according to authorities, Ma allegedly hacked into the University’s computer system and stole uniquenames and passwords of over 60 University students and professors.

Ning Ma, a Chinese citizen here on a student visa, was arrested and charged on Thursday on 23 charges involving eavesdropping and unauthorized access to computers. The Associated Press reported that the 24-year-old was arraigned Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the 14th District Court in Ann Arbor.

Sage Eastman, a spokesperson for Attorney General Mike Cox, said Ma used the information he gained by hacking into other peoples’ e-mail accounts and network storage space to forge e-mails and to gain access to copies of final exams and answer sheets from professors’ storage spaces.

An anonymous Rackham student majoring in financial engineering, Ma’s major, said he went to a job interview and found out someone had e-mailed the company from his account saying that he would not be available for the interview. In the e-mail, it recommended that the company recruit Ning Ma.

“It said I recommend another person, Ning Ma, who is a much better candidate than I… so I would like to give up my interview opportunity to him,” he said.

The student later discovered many irregularities in his e-mail account.

“The ITCS told me that my e-mail account had been hacked back to the time of October,” he said. The student fears that Ma may have deleted many important e-mails and that he has missed many job opportunities.

“I have suffered a lot,” he said.

Eastman said Ma also hacked into a professor’s account and used it to e-mail a female student, in which he told her that she was failing a class. Then he offered to tutor her in hopes of obtaining sexual favors, Eastman said.

Ma also allegedly accessed private information such as a credit card number and bank account and PIN number of another student.

Another anonymous Rackham student said she started hearing rumors about Ma’s alleged crimes during winter semester.

“I just heard about something at the end of the semester and I knew the school was (investigating the case),” she said.

The student said Ma was in several of her classes and seemed like a normal student, but was somewhat ostracized once the rumors of his alleged crimes began.

“We knew something about it so we stayed away from him,” she said.

Cox has levied 23 charges against Ma, including counts of unauthorized access to a computer, computer system or network, eavesdropping, unlawful possession of eavesdropping device and using computers to commit a crime.

Ma could face up to five years in prison, Eastman said.

DPS spokesperson Diane Brown said Ma’s bond is set at $1 million – he will have to post $100,000 in cash to get out of jail. She said his next court appearance is a preliminary exam August 13 at 1 p.m. in the Fourteenth District Court.

In a written statement, James Hilton, associate provost for Academic, Information and Instructional Technology Affairs said the case has been handled in accordance with the University’s Proper Use Policy.

“Based on this policy, we have procedures in place to track misuse of our system, and policies that provide appropriate sanctions for those who abuse it,” Hilton said.

“The (University) takes this case very seriously and has been working closely with the authorities on this investigation. We are committed to providing a highly secure computing environment for our users.”

Ma could not be reached for comment.

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