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A British man was arrested Wednesday in Spain in reference to the 2020 hack of Twitter accounts belonging to Apple, President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, Tesla chief Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and greater than 100 others to swindle their followers out of bitcoin, the Justice Department mentioned.
Joseph O’Connor was arrested in Estepona by Spanish National Police on the request of U.S. authorities, who now will search his extradition, authorities mentioned.
O”Connor, 22, is charged in a criminal complaint in California federal court with counts related to the illegal compromise of more than 130 Twitter accounts in the hack on July 15, 2020.
Three other people previously had been charged in connection with the hack, including a then-17-year-old in Florida who was the alleged “mastermind” of the attack. A prosecutor said last year that the scam netted more than $100,000 worth of bitcoin.
O’Connor is also accused of cyberstalking a juvenile victim and computer intrusions of TikTok and Snapchat user accounts.
The Twitter account victims included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, reality television superstar Kim Kardashian, former New York 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 first-ever tweet, although the account had placed ads in the past.
During the hacks, messages that said “I’m giving again to my neighborhood” or some variation were posted by the accounts.
The message urged followers of the accounts to send bitcoin to an address, saying the followers then would be repaid double the amount they had sent.
Rachel Tobac, CEO of cybersecurity firm SocialProof Security, told NBC News at the time that the attack was likely the largest Twitter had ever seen.
“We are fortunate the attackers are going after bitcoin (cash motivated) and never motivated by chaos and destruction,” Tobac said.
Twitter last year said, “The social engineering that occurred on July 15, 2020, focused a small quantity of workers by way of a telephone spear phishing assault.”
“A profitable assault required the attackers to acquire entry to each our inside community in addition to particular worker credentials that granted them entry to our inside help instruments,” Twitter said.
“Not all of the workers that have been initially focused had permissions to make use of account administration instruments, however the attackers used their credentials to entry our inside programs and achieve details about our processes.”
Authorities mentioned O’Connor is charged with three counts of conspiracy to deliberately entry a pc with out authorization and acquiring info from a protected laptop; two counts of deliberately accessing a pc with out authorization and acquiring info from a protected laptop; and one rely of conspiracy to deliberately entry a pc with out authorization and with the intent to extort from an individual a factor of worth, transmitting a communication containing a menace.
He is also charged with one rely of making extortive communications; one rely of making threatening communications; and two counts of cyberstalking.