Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Fraud Risk Management , Social Engineering

Third Arrest in Connection With 2020 Twitter Hack

Spanish Police Arrested UK Citizen Joseph O'Connor at Request of US Prosecutors
Third Arrest in Connection With 2020 Twitter Hack

A U.K. citizen was arrested in Spain Wednesday at the request of the U.S. Justice Department for his alleged role in a July 2020 hack of Twitter and additional incidents targeting TikTok and Snapchat.

See Also: Webinar | Everything You Can Do to Fight Social Engineering and Phishing

Spanish National Police arrested Joseph O'Connor, 22, in Estepona, Spain. He is charged with multiple counts related to the Twitter hack on July 15, 2020, along with computer intrusion charges related to alleged takeovers of TikTok and Snapchat user accounts, the Justice Department says. He also faces allegations of cyberstalking a juvenile victim.

Prosecutors did not indicate when O'Connor would be extradited to the U.S. And they did not offer any details on O'Connor's alleged role in the Snapchat, TikTok or Twitter incidents.

Three others have been charged in connection with the 2020 Twitter hack, and two of those have been arrested. One has pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

O'Connor is charged with three counts of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer; two counts of intentionally accessing a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer; one count of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and with the intent to extort from a person a thing of value, transmitting a communication containing a threat; one count of making extortive communications; one count of making threatening communications; and two counts of cyberstalking, according to the Justice Department.

The Twitter Hack

In the July 15, 2020, Twitter hack, a multinational team of hackers gained access to 130 high-profile Twitter accounts - including those of Joe Biden, Bill Gates and Elon Musk - by tricking several Twitter employees into sharing administrative credentials.

The attackers then used this access to take over the accounts and launch a scam. The attackers said in posts on the accounts that anyone sending $1,000 would be sent $2,000 in return. This resulted in the theft of about $118,000 from 360 people, prosecutors say.

Florida resident Graham Ivan Clark was arrested on July 30, 2020. In March, he pleaded guilty to 30 felony charges. He was charged as a juvenile and received a three-year sentence in a juvenile facility.

Clark tricked several Twitter employees into sharing needed admin credentials to gain access to the accounts, according to prosecutors.

The Co-Conspirators

Two alleged co-conspirators also charged in connection to the July 2020 hack are Nima Fazeli, aka Rolex, 22, of Orlando, and U.K. resident Mason Sheppard, aka Chaewon, 19.

Fazeli was arrested in July 2020 and charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer. Court documents dated Feb. 1 state prosecutors are negotiating a potential resolution of Fazeli's case.

Sheppard, who has not been arrested, was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and the intentional access of a protected computer.

About the Author

Doug Olenick

Doug Olenick

Former News Editor, ISMG

Olenick has covered the cybersecurity and computer technology sectors for more than 25 years. Prior to his stint as ISMG as news editor, Olenick was online editor for SC Media, where he covered every aspect of the cybersecurity industry and managed the brand's online presence. Earlier, he worked at TWICE - This Week in Consumer Electronics - for 15 years. He also has contributed to, TheStreet and Mainstreet.

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