Clark hacked into the Twitter accounts of famous people and celebrities, but they were not the primary victims. This ‘Bit-Con' was designed to defraud money from regular Americans from across the country and here in Florida
Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren
(CMR) A 17-year-old Florida teen has been arrested as the “mastermind” behind the recent Twitter hack that targeted celebrities including former President Barack Obama and Elon Musk. Federal agents arrested Graham Ivan Clark of Tampa and two others this morning after a nationwide investigation.
The FBI and Department of Justice said he is facing 30 felony charges and is being charged as an adult after hacking into celebrity accounts on July 15 and scamming unsuspected victims out of $100,000 in Bitcoin.
Clark faces 17 counts of communications fraud, one count of organized fraud, one count of fraudulent use of personal information with over $100,000 or 30 or more victims, 10 counts of fraudulent use of personal information, and one count of accusing a computer or electronic device without authority.
The attack — thought to be the largest and most coordinated in Twitter's history — has exposed vulnerabilities on the platform. The attack targeted 130 Twitter accounts, tweeted from 45 of them, accessed the direct messages of 36 and downloaded data from 7 accounts, the company said.
Co-accused are Mason Sheppard, a 19-year-old in the U.K., and Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, Florida, with roles in the hack. They face charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
The scheme targeted the country's richest and most famous celebrities and took advantage of a vulnerability in the Twitter platform. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos , Kim Kardashian-West and rapper Kanye West were some of his other celebrity victims.
The Twitter profiles were used to post messages asking their millions of followers to send Bitcoin to accounts associated with Clark. The messages promised the senders that their payments would be doubled — which never happened. Clark also sold access to some of the accounts, Warren said.
Clark “reaped over $100,000 in Bitcoin in just one day,” Warren said. “He's a 17-year-old kid who apparently just graduated high school, but make no mistake: this was not an ordinary 17-year-old. This was a highly sophisticated attack on a magnitude not seen before.”
Twitter thanked law enforcement for its “swift actions” and said it would continue to cooperate with the investigation.