Twitter Celebrity Hack: UK Citizen Arrested in Spain for Role in 2020 Scam Attack

A 22-year-old British citizen was arrested in Spain on Wednesday in reference to a July 2020 Twitter hack which compromised the accounts of high-profile politicians and celebrities, the US Justice Department stated on Wednesday.

It named the British man as Joseph James O’Connor and stated he confronted a number of expenses. He was additionally accused in a felony criticism of pc intrusions associated to takeovers of TikTok and Snapchat accounts, together with one incident involving sextortion, in addition to cyberstalking a 16-year-old juvenile.

An unnamed second particular person, recognized solely as “Juvenile 1” in the felony criticism, was additionally charged in reference to the hack on July 30, 2020, in the Northern District of California for enjoying a “central position” in the Twitter assault and used the moniker Kirk#5270.

The teen was later recognized as Graham Ivan Clark, 18. The federal expenses have been dismissed and in March, he pleaded responsible to state expenses in Florida and agreed to serve three years in juvenile jail.

The July 2020 Twitter assault hijacked quite a lot of verified Twitter accounts, together with then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The accounts of former President Barack Obama, TV actuality star Kim Kardashian, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Benjamin Netanyahu, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, and Kanye West have been additionally hit.

The alleged hacker used the accounts to solicit digital forex, prompting Twitter to take the extraordinary step of stopping some verified accounts from publishing messages for a number of hours till safety to the accounts may very well be restored.

According to the felony criticism, the accounts of cryptocurrency exchanges similar to Binance, Gemini, and Coinbase amongst others have been additionally compromised, in addition to these of firms together with Apple and Uber.

The messages directed individuals to ship cryptocurrency to numerous accounts, and obtained about $117,000 (roughly Rs. 87 lakhs) via 415 transfers, the criticism stated. Two different Bitcoin addresses that have been posted, in the meantime, additionally collected a further $6,700 (roughly Rs. 4.9 lakhs) via 100 transactions. Bitcoin value in India stood at Rs. 23.8 lakhs as of 11am IST on jUly 22.

Authorities allege that Juvenile 1 reached out to a number of different individuals and claimed he might “reset, swap and management any Twitter account at will, and would accomplish that in change for Bitcoin transfers.”

Two of these individuals whom Juvenile 1 recruited, Nima Fazeli and Mason Sheppard, agreed to function middlemen to assist discover patrons for Twitter usernames in change for a charge, investigators say.

Both Fazeli and Sheppard have been criminally charged in the case on July 30, 2020, the criticism says.

O’Connor’s position in the assault got here to gentle after the FBI interviewed one other unnamed juvenile, known as Juvenile 2, who recognized O’Connor and stated O’Connor had communicated about gaining access to sure Twitter accounts, together with probably that of former President Donald Trump.

Criminal investigators in California began receiving recommendations on O’Connor, who makes use of the web moniker PlugwalkJoe, way back to 2018, the criticism says. Witnesses who had heard what O’Connor’s voice appeared like on numerous Google voice calls have been in a position to assist legislation enforcement establish him.

A Justice Department spokesman stated O’Connor is anticipated to have a detention listening to in Spain on Thursday.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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