Three young men, two from Florida and one from UK, are facing charges over the recent hacking attack that targeted more than 100 Twitter accounts, including multiple high-profile accounts, in a bid to collect bitcoin donations.
Graham Ivan Clark, 17, was arrested early on July 31 and charged with 30 felony charges over the scam, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren’s office said in a statement.
The Tampa teenager, believed to be a mastermind of the attack, managed to gain access to numerous Twitter accounts, including those of former US President Barack Obama, US presidential candidate Joe Biden, billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, rapper Kanye West and his wife, model Kim Kardashian.
He then posted tweets from many of the accounts claiming that they wanted to “give back to the community” and would double Bitcoin donations sent to an attached address.
Clark managed to collect more than $100,000 in Bitcoin in just one day, the attorney’s office confirmed.
Two more people were charged for their roles in the scam. They were identified as Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” 19, of Bognor Regis, in the United Kingdom, and Nima Fazeli, aka “Rolex,” 22, of Orlando, Florida. Shappard was accused of “conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer” while Fazeli was charged with “aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.”
The charges came as a result of “a complex nationwide investigation” conducted by local investigators together with the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Secret Service. The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and Florida’s Department of Law enforcement were also involved.
“There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence,” said a US Attorney David Anderson while a Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, Thomas Edwards added that “today’s announcement proves that cybercriminals can no longer hide behind perceived global anonymity.”
While the probe into the scam was headed by the FBI and deals with federal crimes, Clark will be prosecuted by a Florida court, given that the state’s law allows minors to be charged as adults in financial fraud cases.
“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they’re not the primary victims here,” Warren said, explaining that the real target was regular Americans who the teen wanted to swindle money from.
“This ‘Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida. This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that,” he added.
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