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A British man was arrested in Spain on Wednesday in connection with 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 more than 100 others. to get their followers out of bitcoin, the Justice Department said.
The accused man, Joseph O’Connor, was arrested in Estepona by the Spanish National Police at the request of US authorities, who will now request his extradition.
O’Connor, 22, is facing charges in a criminal complaint in California federal court with counts related to illegally compromising more than 130 Twitter accounts in the July 15, 2020 hack.
Three other people had previously 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 raised more than $100,000 worth of bitcoin.
O’Connor is also charged with cyberstalking an underage victim and hacking into TikTok and Snapchat user accounts.
Victims of the Twitter account also included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, reality TV superstar Kim Kardashian, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, musicians Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa, the Cash App business account and the Uber corporate account. . The bitcoin-related tweet was Apple’s very first tweet, although the account had posted ads in the past.
During the hacks, the accounts posted messages that read “I’m giving back to my community”.
The message urged followers of the accounts to send the cryptocurrency bitcoin to an address, saying that the followers would then get back double the amount they 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 lucky that the attackers are going after bitcoin (money-motivated) and not motivated by chaos and destruction,” Tobac said.
Twitter had said last year, “The social engineering that took place on July 15, 2020, targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack.”
“For a successful attack, the attackers needed to access both our internal network and specific employee credentials that gave them access to our internal support tools,” Twitter said.
“Not all employees who were initially targeted were allowed to use account management tools, but the attackers used their credentials to access our internal systems and obtain information about our processes.”
O’Connor is charged with three counts of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without permission and obtain information from a secure computer; two counts of intentionally accessing a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a secure computer; and one count of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without permission and, with the intent to extort anything of value from a person, to send a communication containing a threat.
He is also accused of making extortionate communications; a count of making threatening communications; and two counts of cyberstalking.