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A Briton was discovered in Spain on Wednesday in connection with the 2020 hack of Apple’s Twitter accounts, President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and more than 100 others arrested for cheating on their Bitcoin followers, the Justice Department said.
Joseph O’Connor was arrested in Estepona by the Spanish National Police at the request of the US authorities, who now want to apply for his extradition, the authorities said.
O’Connor, 22, is charged in a criminal complaint in California federal court on charges related to illegally compromising more than 130 Twitter accounts in the July 15, 2020 hack.
Three other people had previously been charged in connection with the hack, including a then 17-year-old in Florida who was the alleged “mastermind” of the attack. This Tampa teenager Graham Ivan Clark pleaded guilty to Florida State charges in March and was sentenced to three years in prison.
A prosecutor said last year that the fraud brought in more than $ 100,000 worth of bitcoin.
O’Connor is also accused of cyberstalking and breaking into TikTok and Snapchat accounts as a teenage victim.
Victims of the Twitter account included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, reality TV superstar Kim Kardashian, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, musicians Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa, the Cash App corporate account, and Uber’s corporate account . The Bitcoin-related tweet was Apple’s very first tweet, despite the fact that the account had served ads in the past.
During the hacks, messages were posted by the accounts saying “I’m giving back to my community” or some variation.
The message asked the accounts’ followers to send bitcoin to an address and said the followers would then get back double the amount sent.
Rachel Tobac, CEO of cybersecurity company SocialProof Security, told NBC News at the time that the attack was probably the biggest attack Twitter has ever seen.
“We are lucky that the attackers hunt Bitcoin (money-motivated) and are not motivated by chaos and destruction,” said Tobac.
Twitter said last year, “The social engineering that took place on July 15, 2020 targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack.”
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“A successful attack required the attackers to have access to our internal network as well as certain employee credentials that gave them access to our internal support tools,” said Twitter.
“Not all of the originally attacked employees were authorized to use account management tools, but the attackers used their credentials to access our internal systems and obtain information about our processes.”
Authorities say O’Connor is charged with triple conspiracy to deliberately access a computer and obtain information from a protected computer without authorization; two counts of deliberately accessing a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer; and a point of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and with the intent of blackmailing a person into something of value by transmitting a communication with a threat.
He is also charged with extortionate communications; a count of threatening letters; and two cases of cyberstalking.