SANTEE, Calif. -- Deputies are looking for a man who attacked a teenager while he was walking home from Pride Academy in Santee on Monday, and then installed malware on the victim’s phone.
The boy told 10News he was slammed to the ground by a man wearing a mask and hoodie.
“My head landed right about here and the rest of my body was on the concrete,” said the teen, who asked that his name not be revealed.
The teen says the man snatched the phone from his hands.
“I was like ‘Hey stop that, give me my phone.’ And he started running back and forth so I couldn't catch him,” the teen explained.
But it's what the attacker did next that adds a bizarre twist to the crime.
“He plugged something in right here,” the teen said as he displayed the phone. “It was like this little box.”
That little box he says downloaded malware onto his device.
“Everything turned into like this weird virus type screen. It was locked, stuck on that screen.”
Then, the man threw the phone into the grass and took off. The teen he says it all happened in just a couple minutes.
“It said that I had done something illegal and that I had to pay a $200 fine either with iTunes or Amazon [gift] cards. I was really afraid.”
T-Mobile had to wipe his entire phone to get it working again.
“Photos, contacts, I lost everything,” the teen said.
Meanwhile, his family acted quickly to prevent possible financial fraud.
“I had to cancel all my cards that were connected to his phone for games and stuff, and I had to change passwords on my PayPal,” said Janine, the boy’s mother.
A hassle? Sure, but she’s just grateful it wasn't worse.
“A phone I can replace, my child I cannot.”
The family did file a report with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. They worry the man could strike again.
T-Mobile told them this was unusual. The company typically sees this kind of malware sent through emails and text messages, but not in person.