A U.K. national has pleaded guilty in relationship with the July 2020 Twitter attack influencing several significant-profile accounts and defrauding other buyers of the system.
Joseph James O’Connor, who also went by the online alias PlugwalkJoe, admitted to “his function in cyberstalking and many techniques that contain personal computer hacking, which include the July 2020 hack of Twitter,” the U.S. Office of Justice (DoJ) stated.
The 23-yr-previous individual was extradited from Spain on April 26 following a Spanish Nationwide Court, in February, permitted the DoJ ask for to hand above O’Connor to encounter 14 felony expenses in the U.S.
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The large hack, which took on July 15, 2020, involved O’Connor and his co-conspirators seizing management of 130 Twitter accounts, such as these belonging to Barack Obama, Invoice Gates, and Elon Musk, to perpetrate a cryptocurrency scam that netted them $120,000 in a several hours.
The attack was built probable by employing social engineering strategies to acquire unauthorized entry to backend equipment utilized by Twitter, and subsequently leveraging that entry issue to seize manage of the accounts and, in some scenarios, offer the accessibility to other folks. O’Connor himself is claimed to have purchased unauthorized obtain to a single Twitter account for $10,000.
O’Connor is a single of 4 folks who have been charged with carrying out the Twitter hack. Nima Fazeli and Graham Ivan Clark ended up arrested that very same thirty day period, although O’Connor was apprehended by Spanish authorities in the town of Estepona a yr afterwards in July 2021.
Mason Sheppard, according to BBC’s Joe Tidy, has not been arrested. Clark was awarded a a few-12 months jail term immediately after he pleaded guilty to 30 felony expenses in March 2021.
In addition to the Twitter incident, the defendant has been billed with laptop intrusions linked to takeovers of TikTok and Snapchat user accounts, as very well as stalking a juvenile target on the internet.
This entailed orchestrating SIM swapping attacks against two unnamed victims to get illicit obtain to their Snapchat and TikTok accounts, respectively, as well as making phony unexpected emergency calls to law enforcement about a 3rd sufferer, professing that the portion was “earning threats to shoot individuals.”
SIM swapping occurs when fraudsters call a telecom services company under the guise of a target to port the target’s mobile selection to a SIM card under their regulate, resulting in the victim’s phone calls and messages being routed to a malicious unauthorized system controlled by the risk actors.
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The miscreants then typically use control of the victim’s mobile phone quantity to acquire around lender accounts and other services held by the target that are registered to the mobile phone quantity by using benefit of call- or SMS-dependent two-factor authentication.
O’Connor and his co-conspirators have also been accused of employing SIM swapping procedures to siphon cryptocurrency to the tune of $794,000 from a New York Town-primarily based crypto enterprise between March and Could 2019.
“After stealing and fraudulently diverting the stolen cryptocurrency, O’Connor and his co-conspirators laundered it by dozens of transfers and transactions and exchanged some of it for Bitcoin applying cryptocurrency exchange expert services,” the DoJ claimed.
“Finally, a portion of the stolen cryptocurrency was deposited into a cryptocurrency trade account controlled by O’Connor.”
O’Connor, who has agreed to forfeit about $794,000 in stolen money, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 23. The charges carry a complete most penalty of above 70 years in jail.
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