Police in Spain arrested a 22-year-old British man in connection with a major Twitter hack last year that targeted high-profile accounts as part of a Bitcoin scam.
Joseph O’Connor was picked up by police in the resort of Estepona about 280 miles south of Madrid after US authorities arrested the suspected hacker, the Justice Department (DoJ) said on Wednesday, July 21. Connor’s detention follows other arrests made in connection with the case last year.
According to the DoJ, O’Connor has been charged with a number of crimes related to the hack, as well as crimes related to taking over TikTok and Snapchat user accounts. The defendant is also charged with cyberstalking a juvenile victim.
The exceptionally brazen attack in July 2020 targeted more than 130 Twitter accounts, including those of politicians and celebrities like Joe Biden (ahead of his presidential election), former President Barack Obama, Tesla, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft- Co-founder Bill Gates and celebrities Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
The ruse was that the hijacked accounts posted a fake tweet (see below) asking followers to send payments to a Bitcoin wallet, with several reports suggesting they had received more than $ 100,000 before the fraud has stopped.
The perpetrators were able to start the attack after targeting a number of Twitter employees with a so-called “phone spear phishing attack” that led them to believe that they were talking to colleagues. The bold approach allowed the hackers to get information from the victims who opened up Twitter’s internal tools. The hackers could then take over the targeted Twitter accounts and post the fake tweets.
O’Connor’s detention follows three more arrests in 2020 related to the hack, including that of 18-year-old Graham Clark, who was sentenced to three years in prison by a Florida court in March 2021 for his role in the crime.
Clark would have received at least ten years in prison for the offense, but his conviction as a “juvenile offender” meant he could avoid the tougher sentence.
“Graham Clark must be held accountable for this crime and other potential fraudsters must see the consequences,” said Andrew Warren, Hillsborough District Attorney.