Tampa teen, Orlando man charged in Twitter hack

Tampa teen, Orlando man charged in Twitter hack
Tampa teen, Orlando man charged in Twitter hack

A Tampa teenager is accused of being the “mastermind” of a Twitter hack this month that targeted high-profile celebrities, politicians and musicians.

Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren announced Friday that he filed 30 felony charges against 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark in the July 15 social media attack.

“Clark’s scheme to defraud stole the identities of prominent people, posted messages in their names directing victims to send Bitcoin to accounts associated with Clark, and reaped more than $100,000 in Bitcoin in just one day,” Warren said in a prepared statement.

Federal prosecutors also charged two other men with participating in the hack, which involved the social-media accounts of such celebrities as Elon Musk, Barack Obama and Bill Gates.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced that 19-year-old Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” of Bognor Regis in the United Kingdom was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and intentional access of a protected computer. Nima Fazeli, aka “Rolex,” a 22-year-old Orlando man, was charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.

Warren said Clark will be charged as an adult with organized fraud, communications fraud, fraudulent use of personal information and access to a computer or electronic device without authority. The complaints allege that the Twitter attack consisted of a combination of technical breaches and social engineering.

“This young man is going to be charged with 30 federal felony counts,” said Jimmy Patronis, state chief financial officer. “As soon as I saw this tweet, a series of tweets coming out across Twitter, I called my office immediately, and I said, ‘Something’s up.’”

Warren’s office is prosecuting Clark “because Florida law allows minors to be charged as adults in financial fraud cases such as this when appropriate,” the state attorney said in a news release.

The FBI and Department of Justice will continue to partner with the office throughout the prosecution, Warren said.

“Scamming people out of their hard-earned money is always wrong,” Warren said. “Whether you’re taking advantage of someone in person or on the internet, trying to steal their cash or their cryptocurrency --- it’s fraud, it’s illegal, and you won’t get away with it.”

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