Arizona residents may have heard that on July 31, prosecutors announced charges against three individuals in connection with a hack that affected some prominent accounts on Twitter. One of the individuals is a 17-year-old from Florida, and the other two are men, one from Britain and one from Florida. The 17-year-old was reportedly the mastermind behind the hack.
The teen allegedly broke into 130 Twitter accounts and duped the followers of influential accounts to transfer over $100,000 in Bitcoin into various accounts. The young defendant is being charged with 30 felonies, including hacking, fraud and identity theft.
The other two defendants are being charged by federal prosecutors with money laundering and other crimes. They are accused of helping with the sale of access to some of the accounts that were hacked.
The scheme was a “spear phishing attack” via phone. The alleged mastermind of the plot reportedly presented himself as a member of Twitter’s IT team to another Twitter employee. He was reportedly able to convince the employee to give him company credentials to access the companies’ customer service portal. According to the Hillsborough County State Attorney, this attack was highly sophisticated and of a magnitude not before seen.
An online messaging platform was used to discuss plans to break into several Twitter accounts by a user identified as one of the defendants and another unidentified person. They also reportedly discussed the sale of access to hacked profiles for as much as $2,500 for desirable accounts.
The attack reportedly occurred on July 15 on the accounts of several high-profile figures including well-known CEOs, a former president and other influential users. Tweets were sent out with messages asking for generous donations to be sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address. Around 400 people fell for the scam and transferred around $117,00.
The individuals in this case are charged with very serious crimes that can result in severe penalties if they are convicted. Anyone who is facing serious charges for white collar crimes, like fraud, embezzlement or money laundering may want to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to explore possible defense strategies and potential outcomes.