(TMU) – Authorities believe that they have found the mastermind behind the biggest attack on Twitter in the site’s history, and it’s a 17-year-old kid from Tampa, Florida.
The teen’s name and photograph are not being released to the media because they are technically a minor. Despite the teen’s young age, they were able to effectively take over the Twitter accounts of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and numerous other celebrities. They then used the accounts to direct payments to a Bitcoin address, and were able to collect over $100,000 before Twitter regained control of the accounts.
On Friday, Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren announced that they filed 30 felony charges against a 17-year-old for the Twitter hack. These charges include organized fraud, communications fraud, fraudulent use of personal information, and access of computer or electronic device without authority.
“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they’re not the primary victims here. This ‘Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida. This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that,” Warren said in a statement.
Warren described the 17-year-old as the “mastermind” behind the attack, but there were two other charges in the case. On Friday, the US Department of Justice announced that two young adults were also being charged for their participation in the hack.
19-year-old Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” of the United Kingdom, was charged in California with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer. 22-year-old, Nima Fazeli, aka “Rolex,” of Florida, was charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.
In a statement announcing the additional charges, U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson threatened hackers and said that they can no longer outsmart the US government.
“There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence. Today’s charging announcement demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived,” Anderson said.
These comments will likely come as a challenge for many.
In their most recent update about the hack, Twitter clarified that:
“The social engineering that occurred on July 15, 2020, targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack. A successful attack required the attackers to obtain access to both our internal network as well as specific employee credentials that granted them access to our internal support tools. Not all of the employees that were initially targeted had permissions to use account management tools, but the attackers used their credentials to access our internal systems and gain information about our processes.”
After the charges were announced on Friday, Twitter said that they continue to be transparent as their investigation continues into how much access these hackers had to high profile accounts.
We appreciate the swift actions of law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case progresses. For our part, we are focused on being transparent and providing updates regularly.
For the latest, see here 👇 https://t.co/kHty8TXaly
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) July 31, 2020
The site has previously admitted that some private messages were accessed by the hackers when they had access to the accounts.
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