Graham Ivan Clark, a 17-year-old in Tampa, Florida, was arrested on Friday in connection with the massive Twitter hack earlier this month in which dozens of high-profile accounts were hijacked as part of a cryptocurrency scam.
KanyiDaily had reported how Twitter accounts of prominent technology moguls, politicians, celebrities and major companies were hacked two weeks ago in an apparent effort to promote a Bitcoin scam.
During the hack, the Twitter accounts of celebrities including Elon Musk, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Kim Kardashian West and Bill Gates asked millions of followers to send money to a Bitcoin address.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the hackers acquired more than $100,000 in Bitcoin from more than 400 transfers the day of the hack, adding that approximately 130 accounts of politicians, celebrities and musicians were compromised.
The 17-year-old was arrested Friday and charged in Tampa for taking over the Twitter accounts of high-profile celebrities to scam people into sending him bitcoin.
“The investigation revealed Graham Ivan Clark, 17, was the mastermind of the recent hack of Twitter,” the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office said.
The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office said Graham Ivan Clark is now facing 30 felony charges, which includes 17 counts of communications fraud (over $300), 10 counts of fraudulent use of personal information.
He also also facing one count each of organized fraud (over $50,000), fraudulent use of personal information (over $100,000 or 30 or more victims) and access computer or electronic device without authority (scheme to defraud).
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said Clark lives in Tampa and will be prosecuted there. He added that Florida law allows minors to be charged as adults in cases of financial fraud.
“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they’re not the primary victims here,” Warren said in a news release.
“This ‘Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida. This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that.”
Two other people were charged in connection with the hack, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
Nineteen-year-old Mason Sheppard, who is from the U.K., was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer, and 22-year-old Nima Fazeli of Orlando was charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.
“There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence,” said U.S. Attorney David Anderson in the DOJ’s statement.
“Today’s charging announcement demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived.”
The DOJ said “the Secret Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the IRS, as well as our state, local and international law enforcement partners were involved in the investigation and arrests.
“We appreciate the swift actions of law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case progresses. For our part, we are focused on being transparent and providing updates regularly.”