TAMPA, Fla. (CBS / AP) — A Florida teenager was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for his role in hacking the Twitter accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities and technology moguls and scamming people around the globe out of more than $100,000 in Bitcoin.
Graham Ivan Clark, 18, pleaded guilty to multiple fraud charges as part of a deal with Hillsborough County prosecutors, the Tampa Bay Times reported.READ MORE: Bouncing Back? New Unemployment Claims In California Down Drastically
Clark was the mastermind behind the scheme to take over prominent Twitter accounts and send tweets seeking Bitcoin payments, prosecutors said. During the high-profile security breach on July 15, tweets were sent from the accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also targeted.
In a blog post by Twitter’s security , the San Francisco-based company said the hack began with an email phishing attack of several of its employees.
“The social engineering that occurred on July 15, 2020, targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack,” the post revealed. ” A successful attack required the attackers to obtain access to both our internal network as well as specific employee credentials that granted them access to our internal support tools. Not all of the employees that were initially targeted had permissions to use account management tools, but the attackers used their credentials to access our internal systems and gain information about our processes.”READ MORE: San Jose Launches 'SJ Aspires' College Tuition Assistance Program For 700 Students
“This knowledge then enabled them to target additional employees who did have access to our account support tools. Using the credentials of employees with access to these tools, the attackers targeted 130 Twitter accounts, ultimately Tweeting from 45, accessing the DM (direct message) inbox of 36, and downloading the Twitter Data of 7.”
Since the attack, the blog post said, “we’ve significantly limited access to our internal tools and systems to ensure ongoing account security while we complete our investigation.”
Prosecutors said Clark was tried in state court instead of federal court because he was 17 at the time of the crimes, and state law allowed greater flexibility to try a minor as an adult in a financial fraud case.
Two other men also were charged in the case. Mason Sheppard, of the United Kingdom, and Nima Fazeli, of Orlando, were charged separately in federal court.MORE NEWS: COVID Reopening: 2021 Alameda County Fair To Proceed In October
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