A 22-year-old man was arrested in Spain on Wednesday in connection with the hack of greater than 100 Twitter accounts final July, turning into the fourth particular person charged within the incident that led to a brief shutdown of the social media service.
The man, Joseph O’Connor, faces prices within the United States of hacking, extortion and cyberstalking within the Twitter breach and is accused in hacks of the TikTok account of the favored creator Addison Rae Easterling and the Snapchat account of the actor Bella Thorne, the Justice Department stated.
The Twitter incident started when the hackers linked final yr in a web-based discussion board centered on shopping for and promoting uncommon person names, a number of the people concerned informed The New York Times at that time. They then broke into Twitter’s programs by tricking staff into offering login info, in keeping with authorized filings. The hackers used an administrative software to take over accounts belonging to political figures and celebrities, together with former President Barack Obama, Kanye West and Elon Musk, utilizing the accounts to conduct a Bitcoin rip-off, the filings stated.
Graham Ivan Clark, an 18-year-old who prosecutors stated was the “mastermind” of the Twitter hack, pleaded responsible to fraud prices in March in a Florida court docket and agreed to serve three years in juvenile jail. Two others, Mason Sheppard and Nima Fazeli, had been arrested and accused of serving as middlemen for Mr. Clark to promote the Twitter accounts.
Mr. O’Connor was a widely known determine amongst hackers dealing in person names, going by the identify “PlugWalkJoe.” According to speak logs that the hackers shared with The New York Times final July, Mr. O’Connor interacted with the group briefly, buying the Twitter deal with @6.
At the time, Mr. O’Connor denied involvement within the Bitcoin rip-off. “I don’t care,” he stated in an interview. “They can come arrest me. I would laugh at them. I haven’t done anything.”
According to an affidavit submitted by an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who investigated the breach, Twitter’s logs confirmed that a Twitter account belonging to Mr. O’Connor seen a number of accounts, as if purchasing, through the hack.
Ms. Thorne’s Snapchat account was compromised in June 2019, in keeping with the affidavit. The hacker threatened to launch nude pictures discovered on the account except Ms. Thorne posted a tweet thanking him for returning her account, the affidavit stated.
Instead, Ms. Thorne posted the pictures on Twitter. “I feel gross, I feel watched, I feel someone has taken something from me,” she wrote in a press release accompanying the pictures. “I can sleep tonight better knowing that I took my power back. U can’t control my life u never will.”
In June 2020, Mr. O’Connor made false police experiences threatening violence at schools, eating places, an airport and a residence in Southern California, the affidavit stated. The threats had been an try to forged scrutiny on a youth who lived within the space and had clashed with Mr. O’Connor on-line, the affidavit stated. Mr. O’Connor additionally despatched threatening messages and nude pictures to the youth, the affidavit stated.
In August, a month after the Twitter breach, hackers took over Ms. Easterling’s TikTok account, which had greater than 55 million followers. In an obvious reference to Mr. O’Connor’s on-line moniker, her web page was up to date with the message “plugwalkjoe zak n crippin.”
The F.B.I. discovered that Ms. Easterling’s account was accessed through the hack by web protocol addresses linked to Mr. O’Connor, the affidavit stated. They additionally discovered screenshots of her account saved in Mr. O’Connor’s Snapchat, the affidavit stated.
Twitter declined to remark. Representatives for Snap, TikTok, Ms. Thorne and Ms. Easterling didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.
Mr. O’Connor, who’s British, faces extradition to the United States and will face prices in Northern California. A lawyer for Mr. O’Connor couldn’t be instantly recognized.