A Florida teenager has been arrested along with two others in connection with the July hacking of social media site Twitter. 17-year-old Graham Clark is accused of being the “mastermind” behind the Bitcoin-related Twitter hack.
Clark is facing 30 felony charges for “scamming people across America” with the Twitter hack. Tampa news station WFLA says he has been charged with organized fraud, 17 counts of communication fraud, one count of fraudulent use of personal information with over $100,000 or 30 or more victims, 10 counts of fraudulent use of personal information, and one count of access to a computer or electronic device without authority.
In the July 15 hack, bad actors used internal Twitter tools to target 130 accounts and 45 of those accounts saw hackers initiate a password reset, providing full access to the accounts to send tweets.
Affected accounts included those held by Apple, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, former U.S. President Barack Obama, presidential candidate Joe Biden, and others.
The social network says a small number of employees were targeted in a “phone spear-phishing attack,” that exploited human vulnerabilities to mislead certain employees to provide access to Twitter’s internal systems.
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said that Clark’s scheme earned him more than $100,000 in bitcoin.
“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they’re not the primary victims here. This ‘Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida,” Warren said in a statement. “This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that.”
Along with Graham Clark, the United States Department of Justice announced that Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” 19, of Bognor Regis, in the United Kingdom, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of California with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer.
Nima Fazeli, aka “Rolex,” 22, of Orlando, Florida, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of California with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.
Sheppard is facing up to 45 years in prison, while Fazeli is facing up to five years in prison.
“There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson. “Today’s charging announcement demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived. Criminal conduct over the Internet may feel stealthy to the people who perpetrate it, but there is nothing stealthy about it. In particular, I want to say to would-be offenders, break the law, and we will find you.”