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Update on Twitter Bitcoin scam: Teenagers arrested

Photo of: Nathan VDH
by Nathan VDH

On July 15, 2020, hackers took control of the Twitter accounts of numerous celebrities to extort Bitcoins (BTC) on the social network. On July 20, 2020, the company Ciphertrace announced that it had been able to track down the hackers who apparently tried to launder their ill-gotten Bitcoins. The mastermind of the operation is now reportedly known to the police, even if he has not yet been put behind bars.

For several hours, hackers were able to take control of any account on the Twitter social network. In fact, that’s exactly what they did.

The list of hacked accounts was so long that it just seemed unbelievable. There were successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos. The accounts of Barack Obama and Joe Biden were hacked afterwards.

The hackers then went on to attack accounts of companies like Apple and Uber. Finally, they took control of accounts of major companies in the crypto market such as Binance, TRON, Gemini, Bitfinex, …

Using the accounts of these celebrities, hackers tweeted a message inviting Internet users to send them a sum of money in Bitcoin to an address on the network. Once the Bitcoin sum was received, the celebrity was then supposed to send back the double to the trapped user.

Teenagers behind the hack

After the arrest of 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark, the FBI is reportedly looking for another 16-year-old teenager who is also allegedly complicit in the Twitter hack on July 15, 2020.

According to the New York Times, the 4 people interviewed as part of the investigation, would have named this teenager as the mastermind of this hack: he would have personally executed some sensitive elements of the operation.

The authorities have allegedly searched the teenager’s home in Massachusetts but, for the moment, he has not yet been charged.

While Clark had been discovered through his activity on the social network Discord, the alleged mastermind of the operation used encrypted messaging such as Signal or Wire, which made his identification more difficult.

To date, the FBI has also arrested 19-year-old Mason John Sheppard and 22-year-old Nima Fazeli. Clark, on the other hand, is facing 30 charges, including financial fraud, which he will face as an adult.

The Florida prosecutor had said that in a case like this, the law allows for the charging of minors.

This latest Twitter hack is one of the most significant suffered by the platform with victims including several political and showbiz personalities.

The company explained that the attack occurred by exploiting human and non-technical vulnerabilities: the hackers had managed to obtain details of some employees’ IDs to access the platform’s internal tools and then take control of users’ Twitter accounts.