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Theft, sale of Microsoft exams leads to prison

Cheating on a computer test - how desperate can you get?

A former Vancouver, Wash., man was sentenced last week to a year and a day in prison, followed by three years' probation, for stealing and selling exams and answers needed to become a certified Microsoft Corp. software engineer. Robert Keppel was also ordered to forfeit his interest in two cars and to pay $500,000 in restitution. He had made at least $765,600 from the illicit sales, buying a 2001 Lexus RX300 and a 1997 Ferrari 355 Spider with the proceeds.

He could have been fined up to $250,000 and been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In 1999, Keppel began selling Microsoft Certified System Engineer and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer exams, along with the answers to them, over Web sites, said the Seattle U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI. The tests are complex, difficult and large, and passing them makes an individual "highly marketable, usually rais(ing) salaries substantially," government prosecutors said.

Keppel bought some of the exams from an unidentified person in Pakistan, who had photographed or videotaped them at a test site there, the statement said. Among the buyers were some residents of Seattle and the surrounding area, officials said.

News source: Seattle PI

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