Spanish police have charged a fourth alleged hacker over last year’s Twitter hack-turned-Bitcoin scam, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced Wednesday.
UK citizen Joseph O’Connor (22) was arrested in Estepona, Spain on multiple charges at the request of US authorities. No word yet on possible extradition.
O’Connor’s indictment includes charges of unauthorized access to computers, cyberstalking of a juvenile, and illegal takeovers of TikTok and Snapchat accounts.
Last July, O’Connor and his crew phished their way into Twitter’s back-end systems, gaining control of around 130 verified accounts tied to celebrities like Jeff Bezos, Kanye West, and Barack Obama, as well as prominent companies like Apple.
The hackers then leveraged their newfound followings to swindle hundreds of Twitter users out of $100,000 in Bitcoin with a giveaway scam.
A rub down for the shakedown
O’Connor spoke to the New York Times shortly after the Twitter attack (as per The Hacker News).
- To NYT, O’Connor moonlit as hacker alias PlugWalkJoe since 2018.
- As PlugWalkJoe, he met the other Twitter hackers through stealing and trading “rare” Twitter usernames.
- O’Connor said he was getting a massage as the Twitter hack took place.
“They can come arrest me. I would laugh at them. I haven’t done anything.” O’Connor said (via NYT).
KrebsOnSecurity soon linked O’Connor to the hack via Twitter account @shinji, which tweeted images of Twitter’s back-end systems — hinting PlugWalkJoe played a pivotal role in the incident.
According to Wired, a rival hacker gang had dobbed in O’Connor and his Bitcoin-hungry pals by handing over a database containing pertinent private messages to the FBI.
Reuters also reported multiple sources had tipped police to O’Connor’s role.
Lead Twitter hacker already sentenced
Hack mastermind Graham Ivan Clark is currently serving three years in prison after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors in March.
Clark initially faced 30 felony charges but the 18-year-old was tried as a juvenile, swerving a 30-year maximum sentence for organized fraud.
However, Clark’s alleged co-conspirators still await trial.
A second Brit, Mason Sheppard (19), was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer last July.
The Feds stung Floridian Nima Fazeli (22) with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.