High-profile celebrities, business moguls and politicians were caught up in a scam after hackers broke into their Twitter accounts and posted requests for Bitcoin.
Now, a fourth person has been arrested in connection to the hacking plot.
On July 15, 2020, everyone from Kanye West and Kim Kardashian to Elon Musk and Joe Biden appeared to hit up their millions of followers for Bitcoin along with a link.
The scammers promised to return double whatever Bitcoin amount was sent or donate the amount to charity, according to federal prosecutors.
Federal officials alleged that more than 400 transfers were made in the bitcoin account and totaled more than $100,000.
A tweet purportedly from Jeff Bezos, for example, made the dubious statement: “I have decided to give back to my community. All Bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled. I am only doing a maximum of $50,000,000.”
Twitter acknowledged the massive breach and pledged to fix the problem, including by temporarily disabling verified accounts.
“We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter,” the social media giant wrote in a tweet. “We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly.”
On July 21, federal officials announced they charged Joseph O'Connor, 22, in connection to the hack. O'Connor was arrested in Spain and is a United Kingdom citizen.
He was charged with three counts of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer, two counts of intentionally accessing a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer, one count of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and, with the intent to extort from a person a thing of value, transmitting a communication containing a threat, one count of making extortive communications, one count of making threatening communications and two counts of cyberstalking
Three other people were previously cahrged in the internet attack. Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” 19, of Bognor Regis, in the United Kingdom, was charged 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 with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.
The third person was a juvenile and that person's name was not released.
“There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence,” U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California said in announcing Sheppard's and Fazeli's arrest. “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.”
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