Send Bitcoin and they would send back double your money. This was the message that kept popping up on Twitter handles of who’s who in the power circuit. From Barack Obama to Joe Biden, Bill Gates to Elon Musk and Kayne West, every high profile Twitter account was breached last month and Twitter seemed to be a loss initially to come to terms with this Bitcoin scam.
What was thought to be the brainchild of professional scamsters, now appears to be the brainchild of a 17-year-old from Florida in the United States. The ‘mastermind’ of the Twitter breach, the Florida teen has now been arrested for the massive hack that scammed people out of $100,000 in Bitcoin.
State Attorney Andrew Warren filed 30 felony charges against Graham Ivan Clark, 17, of Tampa, for scamming Americans, perpetrating the “Bit-Con” hack of @BillGates , @BarackObama , & @elonmusk Twitter accts. TY to our federal law enforcement partners. https://t.co/exyg4TCOw4 pic.twitter.com/dbdzLfjcNu
— State Attorney 13th (@sao13th) July 31, 2020
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office released the photo of 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark after his arrest on Friday. Clark is accused of hacking Twitter, gaining access to accounts of high profile personalities including Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and many others. He was able to scam people worldwide of more than $100,000 in Bitcoin.
Clark was arrested Friday at his home in Greater Northdale, according to the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office.
As per US Attorney’s office in California, two others have also been charged along with him. They are 22-year-old Nima Fazeli of Orlando and 19-year-old Mason Sheppard from the United Kingdom. UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) searched a property in Bognor Regis with the local police on Friday where Sheppard lives.
Since he is a juvenile, Clark, who faces nearly 30 felony charges, will be tried in Hillsborough County while the other two accused will face federal charges in California.
“He’s a 17 year-old kid who apparently just graduated high school. But no make no mistake, this was not an ordinary 17-year-old. This was a highly sophisticated attack on a magnitude not seen before,” State Attorney Andrew Warren of Clark said on Friday during a media briefing.
As per reports in the American press, the Secret Service seized more than $700,000 of Bitcoin from Clark in April following which came the July 15 Twitter hack episode.
Clark’s modus operandi to scam people of their hard earned money was simple. Steal identities of prominent people, then post messages in their names directing victims to send Bitcoin to accounts he controlled. The accounts received more than 400 transfers and he reaped more than $100,000 in Bitcoin in just one day, the state attorney’s office said Friday.
In a statement, US Attorney David Anderson said, “There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence. Criminal conduct over the Internet may feel stealthy to the people who perpetrate it, but there is nothing stealthy about it. In particular, I want to say to would-be offenders, break the law, and we will find you.”
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