Florida officials said Friday a 17-year-old was the "mastermind" of the high-profile Twitter hack earlier this month, targeting a number of people, including Joe Biden and Bill Gates.
Hillsborough prosecutor Andrew Warren has filed 30 lawsuits against a Tampa resident who cheated on people across America and committed the Bit-Con hack, according to a press release. The investigation found that 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark was the "mastermind" of the hack. According to the release, he was arrested in Tampa early Friday.
Later on Friday, federal officials said two others would be charged with the hack.
19-year-old Mason Sheppard of Bognor Regis in the United Kingdom was charged with a conspiracy to commit cable fraud, a conspiracy to commit money laundering, and deliberate access to a protected computer in a criminal complaint in the northern district of California.
Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, Florida, was charged with a criminal complaint in the northern district of California for having assisted and assisted in intentional access to a protected computer.
"These crimes were committed under the names of famous people and celebrities, but they are not the main victims here," said Warren. "This bit-con was designed to steal money from regular Americans across the country, including here in Florida. This massive scam was staged right here in our back yard, and we won't stand up for it."
The Tampa, Florida teenager is expected to appear in court for the first time on Saturday.
The trick included fake tweets from former President Barack Obama, Biden, Mike Bloomberg, and a number of tech billionaires, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Gates, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian West were also hacked.
The fake tweets offered to send $ 2,000 for every $ 1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.
"There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be carried out anonymously and without consequence," US lawyer David L. Anderson told the Northern District of California in a press release. "Today's announcement of the indictment shows that enthusiasm for shameful hacking into a safe environment for fun or profit will be short-lived."
Hillsborough's prosecutor is prosecuting Clark because the Florida law allows minors to be charged as adults in such cases of financial fraud.
"We appreciate the law enforcement agency's swift action on this investigation and will continue to work together as the case progresses. For our part, we are focused on being transparent and providing regular updates," said Twitter in a statement.
The company previously said the incident was a “coordinated social engineering attack” that attacked some of its employees with access to internal systems and tools. There was no further information on how the attack was carried out, but the details released so far indicate that the hackers initially used the old-fashioned method to talk past security.
British cybersecurity analyst Graham Cluley suspected that a targeted Twitter employee or contractor had received a phone message asking him to call a number.
"When the worker called the number, he may have been taken to a persuasive (but fake) help desk employee who could then use social engineering techniques to trick the intended victim into handing over his credentials," Clulely wrote in Friday his blog.