A 22-year-old British man has been arrested in Spain at the request of the United States after the Justice Department filed multiple charges alleging he was involved in the hacking of several high-profile figures' social media accounts last year, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
The feds say Joseph O'Conner not only took part in the scheme that affected 130 Twitter users, he also took over victims' TikTok and Snapchat accounts, according to a press release announcing his arrest.
O'Conner faces 10 federal charges, including two counts each of cyberstalking, intentionally accessing a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer, and making extortive communications.
The incident that occurred on July 15, 2020 involved a spear-phishing attack wherein hackers were able to break into Twitter's internal systems and gain access to user accounts. In addition to business titans such as Bezos and Musk, scammers also hit politicians including former President Barack Obama and then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, along with company accounts for Apple, Coinbase and other firms linked to cryptocurrencies.
Once access was gained, the hackers sent out tweets from the compromised accounts, attempting to solicit the victims' followers into sending Bitcoin to a specific address. All told, the perpetrators collected $110,000 in irreversible payments from people who were deceived by the fraud.
O'Conner is the fourth person who has been charged in connection with the case.
A few weeks following the attack last year, 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark was hit with dozens of charges by Florida's 13th District state attorney, Andrew Warren, who said that the teen was the mastermind behind the scam. In March, Clark pleaded guilty to multiple charges and was sentenced to three years in prison.
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California charged 19-year-old Mason Sheppard of the United Kingdom with "conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer" in connection to the scheme, and also charged 22-year-old Nima Fazeli with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.