Teenager from Bognor Regis accused of role in high profile Twitter hack

31 July 2020, 21:09 | Updated: 31 July 2020, 22:33

The criminal complaints says the Twitter attack consisted of a combination of technical breaches and social engineering
The criminal complaints says the Twitter attack consisted of a combination of technical breaches and social engineering. Picture: Getty

By Megan White

A teenager from Bognor Regis in West Sussex is one of three people accused over their alleged roles in the Twitter hack earlier this month which saw the accounts of politicians and celebrities compromised, the US department of justice said.

Barack Obama, Elon Musk and Kim Kardashian-West were among the high-profile names targeted in the hack earlier this month.

Mason Sheppard, from Bognor Regis, faces three charges in connection with an apparent cyber scam targeting around 130 accounts on the social media site on July 15.

Sheppard, who US authorities say is also known as "Chaewon", faces charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer.

US Attorney for the Northern District of California David Anderson said Sheppard "faces a statutory maximum penalty of 45 years of imprisonment" if convicted.

The three charges were filed against Sheppard in the Northern District of California, which is where Twitter is located.

Screen grab taken from the twitter account of Kanye West after a number of high-profile Twitter accounts were hacked
Screen grab taken from the twitter account of Kanye West after a number of high-profile Twitter accounts were hacked. Picture: PA

Nima Fazeli, also known as "Rolex," 22, of Orlando, Florida, was 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.

Graham Ivan Clark, 17, was arrested in Tampa, Florida, on Friday according to the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office.

It said Clark will be prosecuted as an adult and is allegedly the "mastermind" behind the hack.

The teenager was arrested on 30 charges, including one count of organised fraud and 17 counts of communications fraud.

United States Attorney David L Anderson said: "There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence.

"Today's charging announcement demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived.

"Criminal conduct over the Internet may feel stealthy to the people who perpetrate it, but there is nothing stealthy about it. In particular, I want to say to would-be offenders, break the law, and we will find you."

The criminal complaints says the Twitter attack consisted of a combination of technical breaches and social engineering.

"The result of the Twitter hack was the compromise of approximately 130 Twitter accounts pertaining to politicians, celebrities, and musicians," it says.

"The hackers are alleged to have created a scam bitcoin account, to have hacked into Twitter VIP accounts, to have sent solicitations from the Twitter VIP accounts with a false promise to double any bitcoin deposits made to the scam account, and then to have stolen the bitcoin that victims deposited into the scam account.

"As alleged in the complaints, the scam bitcoin account received more than 400 transfers worth more than 100,000 US dollars (£76,000).

"The defendants are alleged to have victimised the Twitter VIP users whose accounts were hacked. The defendants are alleged to have victimised the people who sent bitcoin in response to the scam solicitations."

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