From an accused scammer to a “polite” lad, the alleged involvement of some of the young people accused of the major Twitter hack came as a surprise – but not the others.
Three teenagers were accused by the US Department of Justice on Friday in relation to the Twitter hack on July 15, which targeted some 130 accounts, urging followers to send bitcoin (BTC).
The ‘mastermind’ behind the hack is considered to be Graham Ivan Clark, age 17, from Florida, USA. Per the prosecutors, Clark was the leader, and is being charged as an adult with 30 felonies, reported The New York Times.
Acquaintances said that Clark became known for scamming fellow players out of their money in the popular video game Minecraft since he was 10. Players took to YouTube to accuse Clark’s reported alias “Open” of scams.
At 15, he joined an online hackers’ forum OGUsers, describing himself as “full time crypto trader dropout.” He was kicked out from OGUsers, as he reportedly failed to pay bitcoin to a user who had sent him money to complete a transaction. What he learned however was a way to get people’s phone numbers to access all of the online accounts, known as SIM swapping.
In 2019, a tech investor suffered a hack attack with BTC 164 – worth USD 856,000 at the time and USD 1.8m today – stolen, while the extortion note was signed by ‘Scrim,’ reportedly another Clark’s alias. In April, the Secret Service seized BTC 100 from Clark, but he was never charged for this, allegedly as he was a minor.
However, according to the Tampa Bay Times, BTC 400 was seized in April, with BTC 300 returned to Clark, which the defense attorney now argues legitimizes those assets.
By this point, Clark had his own apartment in a Tampa condo complex, a white BMW 3 Series, designer clothes and accessories, etc. Meanwhile, the attorney for the 17-year-old said his client has more than USD 3m worth of BTC.
It is alleged that Clark hired Nima Fazeli and Mason Sheppard as middlemen to “manipulate” Twitter employees into giving up access to the company’s system.
Nima Fazeli, 22, from Florida, was charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer, said the Department of Justice. He is facing 5 years in prison, per The Verge.
“I’m 100% sure my son is innocent,” Mohamad Fazeli told Associated Press, adding that this must be “mix up.” “He’s a very good person, very honest, very smart and loyal,” the father said.
British teenager, 19-year-old Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” of Bognor Regis, in the UK, has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and the intentional access of a protected computer, reported the Daily Mail, with a maximum penalty of 45 years.
His friends were cited saying that “he had been left troubled after his father died from brain cancer six years ago.” Others described him as “polite and funny.” He is the latest Briton at risk of extradition over hacking, noted the article.
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