Industry News

16-year-old arrested after phishing scheme against teachers to change grades

A 16-year-old high school student from California was arrested on Wednesday on 14 felony counts associated with a phishing scheme he allegedly launched against teachers in his school district. The investigation that led to the arrest was a joint effort by local law enforcement, Contra Costa County task force and the Secret Service, according to KTVU.

David Rotaro, a student at Ygnacio Valley High School in the Bay Area, is accused of sending manipulative emails to teachers to trick them into clicking on a link that redirected them to a fake page he had created to mimic the school’s official teacher portal.

It was enough for one teacher to unwittingly log in to the fake website with credentials. Rotaro allegedly stole the teacher’s information and used it to access the school’s grade system to change his grades and those of other students. In some cases the grades were lowered, while in others they were raised.

Teachers reported the suspicious campaign about two weeks ago. The police traced the IP address to the boy’s house and used a special K-9 unit to detect hidden electronics. The dog found a flash drive hidden in a tissue box.

“We wrote numerous search warrants to get the IP addresses of the possible phishing site email. We got it and we did good old-fashioned police detective work and we narrowed it down to an address,” said Sgt. Carl Cruz, the Concord Police Financial Crimes Supervisor. “We believe 10-15 students’ grades were changed, but we’re still investigating.”

David Rotaro was released to his parents and is awaiting a court date.

About the author


From a young age, Luana knew she wanted to become a writer. After having addressed topics such as NFC, startups, and tech innovation, she has now shifted focus to internet security, with a keen interest in smart homes and IoT threats. Luana is a supporter of women in tech and has a passion for entrepreneurship, technology, and startup culture.