Hyderabad: A student from Andhra Pradesh has been arrested by the Albany Police Department of New York under the charges of intentionally causing damage to over 50 protected computers owned by a college in the New York state of Albany on Wednesday.
According to sources, Vishwanath Akuthota, 26, is a citizen of India and a native of Chittoor who was residing in the United States on a student visa since 2015.
Vishwanath was arrested on February 22 in North Carolina after being charged with intentionally causing damage to protected computers owned by The College of Saint Rose in Albany, US Attorney Grant Jaquith said in a statement.
He added that Vishwanath destroyed dozens of computers worth more than $50,000 (approximately Rs 35.5 Lakh).
Video surveillance foot-age showed a man with a red sweatshirt, blue jeans, black sneakers and a gray backpack, the agent stated.
Investigators and college employees later confirmed that it was Vishwanath, who according to school records graduated in December 2017 with a master’s degree in business administration.
According to a criminal complaint, on February 14, Vishwanath entered numerous locations around the Saint Rose campus and inserted a device into more than 50 computers used by students.
The device, which resembles a normal USB memory stick, sends a rapid series of power surges into a computer’s electrical hardware, rendering it inoperable.
Vishwanath was arrested in Raleigh, NC, and was charged with the clandestine destruction of more than 50 computers at the school through the use of the “USB Killer Device”. The official charge is intentional damage of a protected computer.
An FBI agent’s affidavit in a federal complaint states that on February 14, an assistant director of security at the college told Albany police that a man had entered several locations on campus and inserted a device that destroyed each computer’s motherboard, rendering them inoperable.
He appeared in the federal court in Raleigh, North Carolina, where a US Magistrate Judge ordered him detained and transported to the Northern District of New York. The charge filed against Akuthota carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years. This case is being investigated by the APD and the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant US attorney Wayne A. Myers.
Speaking about the local students getting into trouble in other countries, the Telangana State Engineering Colleges Association (TSECA) president said that they must obey the laws of foreign countries. “Those going abroad should maintain good conduct and must not take part in any illegal activities or create nuisance for the authorities there. It will bring a bad name to our country,” he said.
According to TSECA secretary Yellaswamy, students should be told about the rules and regulations by the university management while being accepted for courses.