Hacking of celebs Twitter handles: Mastermind US teen, 2 others charged

Sunday, 02 Aug, 2020

A 17-year-old in Florida was arrested on Friday in connection with a major Twitter hack involving dozens of high-profile accounts.

17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark from Tampa, Florida, the first suspect and the one who orchestrated the hack, was arrested earlier today and charged as an adult after an operation coordinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the IRS, and the Secret Service as reported by WFLA.

Some of the most high-profile celebs, politicians and business leaders can thank a Florida teen for hacking their Twitter accounts. according to cops, who've busted the alleged mastermind.

While the probe into the scam was headed by the FBI and deals with federal crimes, the teen will be prosecuted by a Florida court, given that the state's law allows minors to be charged as adults in financial fraud cases.

A slew of celebrities were hacked on Twitter in a targeted bitcoin scam on Wednesday (July 15). They said Sheppard purchased @anxious and Fazeli wanted @foreign.

The charging announcement "demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived", he said.

It would seem that the Sheppard, Fazeli, and Clark would bump their revenues by deploying tweets of their own on handles they've been asked to compromise - @elonmusk, @kanyewest, @Apple, and over 100 more prized names - offering to double any Bitcoin deposit.

He also said he was conflicted about whether Clark should be charged as an adult.

"This attack relied on a significant and concerted attempt to mislead certain employees and exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access to our internal systems", Twitter said in a statement released late on Thursday in the US. Twitter responded to the situation, writing, "We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools".

Neighbours of the family's terraced home in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, have since said his mother Lorraine had been bringing Mr Sheppard up by herself since her husband Mark died. The others involved in the hack were young people, the Times says, some of whom had gotten to know one another over their shared status as owning especially short, rare Twitter handles like @6 and @y.

The scam was the result of an attack by hackers, in which personal data was also downloaded from a number of unverified Twitter users who were among those targeted. "In particular, I want to say to would-be offenders, break the law, and we will find you".

The San Francisco-based social media giant said there's no evidence the hackers actually accessed passwords of its users in the massive breach, and for that reason, didn't recommend resetting passwords.

Twitter didn't give much detail on how the hackers manipulated employees, but since it did note it was a phone spear phishing attack, it's likely the hackers called or texted Twitter employees and pretended to be someone else to get them to relay information.