United States authorities, on Friday, said a 17-year-old, Graham Ivan Clark, was the “mastermind” of a recent hack of 130 Twitter accounts, including those of high profile persons like US Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden; former President Barack Obama; co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates; and rapper, Kanye West.
Aledeh News had reported how the accounts posted the same strange message, asking their followers to send bitcoin and expect a return in double. The scheme netted bitcoin worth more than $180,000.
But on Friday, Clark was arrested in his Tampa home in Florida. Prosecutors also brought charges against Mason John Sheppard, 19, of the United Kingdom, and Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, Florida. They are accused of acting as brokers during the hack by selling stolen Twitter user names.
According to the New York Times, federal authorities were already tracking Clark before the Twitter hack. In April, the Secret Service seized over $700,000 worth of Bitcoin from him, according to legal documents.
The teenager faces 30 felony charges, including fraud, and is being charged as an adult.
The Florida state attorney handling the case, Andrew Warren, said Clark was skilled enough to go unnoticed inside Twitter’s network.
“This was not an ordinary 17-year-old,” he said.
A criminal affidavit from Florida said Clark convinced one of the company’s employees that he was a co-worker in the technology department who needed the employee’s credentials to access the customer service portal.
According to court documents, despite the hackers’ cleverness, their plan quickly fell apart as they left hints about their real identities and scrambled to hide the money they’d made once the hack became public. Their mistakes were said to have allowed law enforcement to quickly track them down.
In a statement, Twitter thanked law enforcement for its “swift actions” and said it would continue to cooperate with the investigation.