The US DoJ announced that a UK national was arrested by Spanish National Police in Estepona, Spain after he was indicted for allegedly hacking into Twitter and taking over prominent accounts of politicians and celebrities.
22-year-old Joseph O’Connor was charged in the US District Court for the Northern District of California with three counts of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer, along with six other counts.
O’Connor is also facing charges for cyberstalking a juvenile victim and for his involvement in an effort to take over TikTok and Snapchat user accounts.
According to a report released by the New York State Department of Financial Services, O’Connor and at least three others pretended to work for Twitter’s Information Technology department in July 2020. The hackers called employees pretending to be part of the IT team addressing VPN issues and then convinced employees to enter their credentials into a website that looked similar to the real VPN login website.
The hackers then gained access to Twitter’s backend and used prominent accounts of like those owned by President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama and to trick people into sending them Bitcoin.
The hackers also took over the accounts of Benjamin Netanyahu, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
Twitter shut down all of the accounts once the scam tweets were sent out.
The hackers managed to steal about $118,000 worth of Bitcoin and accessed the direct messages of about 30 of the accounts they stole.
The DOJ worked with the FBI, Secret Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation Cyber Unit on the case as well as the UK’s National Crime Agency.