Seventeen-year-old Graham Ivan Clark was identified as the mastermind behind a scheme that took over major Twitter accounts and scammed people
A Florida teenager was identified Friday as the mastermind of a scheme earlier this month that took over the Twitter accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities and tech moguls and scammed people around the world out of more than $ 100,000 in Bitcoin. Two other men were also charged in the case. 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark was arrested Friday in Tampa, where the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office will prosecute him as an adult. He faces 30 felony charges, according to a press release. Two men accused of profiting from the attack, Mason Sheppard, 19, of Bognor Regis, UK, and Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, were charged. Separately in California federal court.In one of the highest-profile security breaches in recent years, fake tweets were sent on July 15 from the accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, and several billionaires. tech, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, co-founder of Microsoft. Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, were also hacked. Tweets offered to send $ 2,000 for every $ 1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address. The hack alarmed security experts because of the great potential for such an intrusion to create geopolitical chaos with disinformation. Court documents in the California cases say that Fazeli and Sheppard negotiated the sale of Twitter accounts stolen by an identified hacker. himself as “Kirk” and said he could “reset, change and control any Twitter account at will” in exchange for digital currency payments, claiming to be an employee of Twitter The documents do not specify Kirk’s true identity, but say that is a teenager on trial in the Tampa area. Twitter has said the hacker gained access to a company dashboard that manages accounts by using social engineering smartphones and spear phishing to obtain credentials from “a small number” of Twitter employees “to gain access to our internal systems.” Phishing uses email or other messages to trick people into sharing login credentials. “There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks such as the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously. and without consequence, “US Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California said in a news release. However, evidence suggests that those responsible did a poor job covering their tracks. Court documents released on Friday show how federal agents tracked down the hackers through Bitcoin transactions and obtaining records of their online chats. Although the case was investigated by the FBI and the United States Department of Justice, the Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said his office is prosecuting Clark in state court because Florida law allows minors to be charged as adults in financial fraud cases when appropriate. He called Clark the leader of the hacking scam. “This defendant lives here in Tampa, committed the crime here, and will be prosecuted here,” Warren said. Security experts were not surprised that the alleged mastermind is a 17-year-old. years, given the relatively amateur nature of the operation and how participants discussed it with New York Times reporters afterward. “This is a great case study that shows how technology democratizes the ability to commit serious criminal acts,” said Jake. Williams, founder of the cybersecurity firm Rendition Infosec. “There was not a ton of development in this attack.” Williams said the hackers were “extremely careless” in the way they moved Bitcoin. They apparently did not use any services that make it difficult to track the cryptocurrency by “dropping” transactions from multiple users, a technique similar to money laundering, he said. He also said he was in conflict over whether Clark should be charged as an adult. “He definitely deserves to pay (to seize the opportunity), but potentially serving decades in prison doesn’t seem like justice in this case,” Williams said. The hack targeted 130 accounts with tweets sent from 45 accounts, gained access to message inboxes. 36 direct and downloaded seven Twitter data. Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders said his inbox was among the people he accessed. Court documents suggest Fazeli and Sheppard got involved in the scheme after Clark hung up the possibility of obtaining so-called identifiers. OG Twitter accounts, short account names that, due to their brevity, are highly regarded and considered status symbols in a given medium. They said Sheppard bought @anxious and Fazeli wanted @ foreign Investigators with the Internal Revenue Service in Washington DC identified two of the defendants by analyzing Bitcoin transactions on the blockchain, the universal ledger that records transactions. of Bitcoin, which they had tried to make anonymous, federal prosecutors said. Marcus Hutchins, the 26-year-old British cybersecurity expert, credited with helping stop the WannaCry computer virus in 2017, said the skill set involved in the actual hacking it was nothing special. “I think people underestimate the level of expertise required to carry out these types of attacks. It may sound extremely sophisticated, but the techniques can be replicated by teenagers, ”added Hutchins, who pleaded guilty last year to creating malware designed to steal banking information and just completed a year-long supervised release. The British cybersecurity analyst Graham Cluley said his assumption was that the targeted Twitter employees received a message to call what they believed to be an authorized helpdesk, and the hacker persuaded them to provide their credentials. It’s also possible that hackers might get a call from the company’s legitimate helpline falsifying the number, he said. Fazeli’s father said Friday that he hasn’t been able to speak to his son since Thursday. “I’m 100% sure of it. that my son is innocent, “said Mohamad Fazeli. “He’s a very good person, very honest, very smart and loyal.” “We are just as shocked as everyone else,” he said by phone. “I’m sure this is a mix-up.” Attempts to contact relatives of the other two were not immediately successful. Hillsborough County court records did not list an attorney for Clark, and federal court records did not list attorneys for Sheppard or Fazeli.
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