British teenager charged over major Twitter breach and scam
US authorities have charged a British teenager over a major Twitter breach that hacked the accounts of politicians, celebrities and technology moguls to scam people around the globe out of more than $100,000 in bitcoin.
Mason Sheppard, 19 from Bognor Regis, was arrested in the UK and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and the intentional access of a protected computer. US authorities said Sheppard is known as “Chaewon” online and he could face up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, Florida, was also arrested and charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.
The Department of Justice said charges had also been filed against a juvenile. A 17-year-old was arrested in Tampa, Florida, yesterday, according to the Hillsborough state attorney’s office. It said he would be prosecuted as an adult and is allegedly the “mastermind” behind the hack. He was arrested on 30 charges, including one count of organised fraud and 17 counts of communications fraud.
On 15 July, hackers took control of the accounts of public figures and corporations including Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Apple. The compromised accounts sent a series of tweets: tens of millions of followers were told that if they transferred cryptocurrency to a specific bitcoin wallet, they would receive double the money in return. In the course of halting the hack, Twitter stopped all verified accounts from tweeting – an unprecedented measure.
Twitter said on Thursday that the hackers used a phone “spear-phishing” attack to target its staff. After stealing credentials and getting into Twitter’s systems, the hackers were able to target other employees who had access to account support tools.
Joe Biden’s was one of the verified Twitter accounts to be compromised