UPDATE: July 31, 2020, 12:45 p.m. PDT
The Department of Justice announced Friday that it had charged three people for perpetrating the Twitter hack.
A joint law enforcement investigation in which authorities “followed the money” allowed them to identify a 19-year-old in the U.K., a 22-year-old in Orlando, FL, and a minor it declined to identify who is under the custody of local Florida authorities.
The U.K. hacker has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer. The Orlando attacker seems to have played a more minor role; he was charged with “aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.”
The DOJ’s statement emphasized that, despite mysterious hacker personas, cyber crimes are not anonymous. It provided more insight into how it tracked down the people responsible. It “analyzed the blockchain and de-anonymized bitcoin transactions allowing for the identification of two different hackers.”
“This case serves as a great example of how following the money, international collaboration, and public-private partnerships can work to successfully take down a perceived anonymous criminal enterprise,” Kelly R. Jackson, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of the Washington D.C. Field Office, said. “Regardless of the illicit scheme, and whether the proceeds are virtual or tangible, IRS-CI will continue to follow the money and unravel complex financial transactions.”
Mashable previously reported the arrest of the minor involved. The original story is below.
Move over, Florida Man. Florida Teen is here to do your dirty work.
A 17-year-old in Tampa, Florida has reportedly been arrested for being the “mastermind” behind the July 15 Twitter hack that took over the profiles of Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and 42 other accounts in order to push a cryptocurrency scam.
According to a report from Florida’s local NBC news Channel 8, jail records and the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office show that authorities booked the teenager on “one count of organized fraud, 17 counts of communications 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 access to computer or electronic device without authority.”
Local authorities collaborated with federal law enforcement to bring the not-yet-eligible-to-vote hacker in for what Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren described as “sophisticated and extensive fraud.”
“This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that,” Warren said.
It’s not clear from the report whether the teen acted alone or with accomplices. However, an update on Twitter’s company blog this week referred to the perpetrators as “attackers.”
Twitter said attackers used a “phone spear phishing” scheme to get employee credentials that enabled them to take over accounts. The hackers accessed 45 accounts, and netted over $100,000 in Bitcoin.
Kids these days!