Bri­tish teenager charged over ma­jor Twit­ter breach and scam

The Guardian - - National - Guardian staff and agen­cies

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

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