U.S. authorities in Tampa, Florida have arrested a 17-year-old male suspected of being the “mastermind” behind the immense Twitter hack and Bitcoin scam.
According to Florida news channel WFLA, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has filed 30 felony charges against Florida resident Graham Clark, including organized fraud, fraudulent use of personal information, access to computer or electronic device without authority, communications fraud, and fraudulent use of personal information.
The Twitter hack that occurred on July 15 initially targeted cryptocurrency-related accounts belonging to crypto exchanges and notable crypto news outlets such as CoinDesk, prior to shifting to accounts belonging to high-profile celebrities and politicians such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Kanye West, Joe Biden, and former president Barack Obama.
The compromised accounts tweeted a Bitcoin scam which told followers to send Bitcoin to a particular wallet address, with the promise to double the quantity of Bitcoin in return. The hackers made around $120,000 from the cryptocurrency scam.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation along with the U.S. Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service, Florida law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California provided assistance in the investigation.
In addition to Graham Clark, the United States Department of Justice announced that two other individuals were formally charged. Notably, 22-year-old Nima Fazeli from Florida and 19-year-old Mason Sheppard from the United Kingdom have been accused of being involved in the Twitter security breach.
According to the Department of Justice, the two individuals went by the hacker aliases “Rolex” and “Chaewon” respectively.
According to investigators, Sheppard had verified himself using a personal driver’s license with Binance and Coinbase which are two popular cryptocurrency exchanges and his accounts were discovered to have sent and received some of the illicit Bitcoins.
Furthermore, Fazeli used a driver’s license to verify with Coinbase, where accounts under the control of Fazeli presumably received payments in return for stolen Twitter usernames.
Investigators were able to analyze the blockchain and de-anonymize Bitcoin transactions, which permitted them to identify the two aforementioned hackers.
Fazeli is facing up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for one count of computer intrusion. Whereas, Sheppard is being charged with computer intrusion, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy which carries a 20-year sentence and a 250,000 fine in the United States.
The criminal complaints against Fazeli and Sheppard are available below: