Just over two weeks after an unprecedented cyberattack on celebrity Twitter accounts, the police arrested a 17-year-old as the main suspect.
Graham Ivan Clark is the “brain” behind the most massive hack in Twitter history, affecting more than 130 accounts. His arrest occurred this past Friday in Tampa, Florida. State prosecutors filed 30 felony charges, including fraud, identity theft, and hacking against the teen, describing him as the “mastermind” of the “massive fraud.”
Later Friday, the US Department of Justice said in a press release that two other young men were also arrested in connection with the hack. Mason Sheppard, 19, who lives in the United Kingdom and goes by “Chaewon,” was charged with hacking, fraud, and money laundering, among other things could face up to 45 years in prison. And Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, Florida, who goes by “Rolex” accused of having been helped to break into a computer illegally and could face five years in prison.
“There is a misconception within the community of criminal hackers that attacks like the Twitter hack can be carried out anonymously and without consequences,” prosecutor Anderson said.
The rapid investigation, in this case, shows that such action has quick consequences. According to court documents, the suspects left traces in the Bitcoin transactions, among other things. The investigation was supported by the FBI and the Secret Service.
The California public prosecutor’s office does not want to charge the 17-year-old “mastermind” under federal law because he would then have to be treated as a minor. The charge is therefore left to the local Florida state attorney because he can be held accountable there under local law as an adult. This could result in a significantly higher prison sentence.
In the unprecedented Twitter hack in mid-July, the accounts of numerous celebrities were hijacked, including former US President Barack Obama, presidential candidate Joe Biden, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Tesla boss Elon Musk. Company accounts, such as those from Apple, Netflix, were also hacked. Via the scam tweets through hacked accounts, hackers asked to send money in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin to a specific wallet address — with the promise of repaying the amount twice.
According to the investigators, the scam raised more than $ 100,000 through over 400 transfers. According to Twitter, 130 accounts were affected, tweets were sent from 45 accounts, and the user’s private messages were accessed in 36 cases.
Twitter said on Friday that the company is grateful for the judiciary’s swift action and will continue to cooperate with the investigation.