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Florida teen masterminded Twitter hack that hit Biden, Musk accounts among others

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Florida teen masterminded Twitter hack that hit Biden, Musk accounts among others

By Raphael Satter, Katie Paul and Elizabeth Culliford

 

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FILE PHOTO: The Twitter logo and binary cyber codes are seen in this illustration taken November 26, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

 

(Reuters) - A 17-year-old Florida boy masterminded the hacking of celebrity accounts on Twitter Inc <TWTR.N>, including those of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, officials said on Friday.

 

A 19-year-old British man and a 22-year-old man in Orlando, Florida were also charged under U.S. federal law with aiding the attack, the Justice Department said.

 

Florida's State Attorney identified the 17-year-old as Graham Clark of Tampa and charged him as an adult with 30 felony counts of fraud. Clark netted at least $100,000 from the scheme by using the celebrity accounts to solicit investments from unsuspecting Twitter users.

 

"He's a 17-year-old kid who just graduated from high school," said Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, "But make no mistake: This was not an ordinary 17-year-old."

 

Mason Sheppard, a 19-year-old from Bogner Regis, Britain who used the alias Chaewon, was charged with wire fraud and money laundering while Orlando-based Nima Fazeli, 22, nicknamed Rolex, was accused of aiding and abetting the crimes, according to a Justice Department statement.

 

Twitter said it appreciated the "swift actions of law enforcement."

 

Clark and one of the other participants were in custody, officials said.

 

In the hack, fraudulent tweets soliciting investments in the digital currency bitcoin were posted in mid-July by 45 verified Twitter accounts, including those belonging to Biden, former President Barack Obama and billionaire Bill Gates.

Twitter said the hackers also likely read some direct messages including to a Dutch elected official.

 

Clark was able to obtain more than $100,000 that way, a public bitcoin ledger showed.

 

Twitter has said its employees were duped into sharing account credentials.

 

Sheppard and Fazeli did not return emails seeking comment. An attorney for Clark could not be immediately identified. Phone calls and an email to Clark's mother were not immediately returned.

 

Warren said the state rather than federal government was prosecuting Clark because Florida law enabled him to be charged as an adult.

 

StopSIMCrime founder Robert Ross, whose group tries to combat a popular hacking technique, said the case showed the prowess of adolescent amateurs at defeating corporate security.

 

"Groups of teens/youngsters are doing this en masse," he said by email. "It's really a national security risk," he said.

 

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru, Raphael Satter in Washington, D.C., Katie Paul in San Francisco and Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-08-01
 
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He's going to get a lot of time in jail for this I imagine. They seem to take hacking and other similar things serious. 17, 19, and 22 years old and already going to jail. 😞 

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31 minutes ago, JohnnyNJoy said:

He's going to get a lot of time in jail for this I imagine. They seem to take hacking and other similar things serious. 17, 19, and 22 years old and already going to jail. 😞 

Not going to be fun locked up with real hardened criminals either....ouch

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Smart kid to bad he wasent blessed with the wisdom to know there would be consequences for his act hope he gets (spanked)but not so hard as to ruin his life

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At 17 and already a master criminal, they start young nowadays don't they?...

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1 hour ago, JohnnyNJoy said:

He's going to get a lot of time in jail for this I imagine. They seem to take hacking and other similar things serious. 17, 19, and 22 years old and already going to jail. 😞 

Nahh!! They will be recruited...

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Why is he being charged as an adult, and why is this a deciding factor in by whom he is being charged?

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These R-Soles should be executed on TV, and shown in slow motion to see their smirk disappear after the bullet enters their ear 🙂 All malicious hackers should suffer the same fate 🙂

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I can frown and smile at this. Obviously fraud and hacking are crimes and should attract punishment, but one can admire the talent at the same time. Talented youths should be nurtured before they turn to crime and fast-tracked into cyber security.

Edited by DoctorG
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3 minutes ago, boonrawdcnx said:

Not a hack really they just conned security credentials out of Twitter employees.


That’s pretty much what hacking is though. It’s not forcing code and breaking security protocols, it’s duping people and fishing. It’s trickery and social engineering. 
 

If I can manage to trick you into giving me your credentials, then that’s your basic hack. 

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When everything is said and done these kids, if it’s their first non-violent offense, they probably gonna get a very firm wrist slap and as long as they keep their nose clean after, they should be ok. 

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