Cybersecurity

Twitter Hacker Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for $120,000 Crypto Fraud

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June 24, 2023Ravie LakshmananCybercrimes / Cryptocurrencies

Twitter Crypto Scam

A British national who took part in a massive Twitter hack in July 2020 has been sentenced to five years in prison in the US

Joseph James O’Connor (aka PlugwalkJoe), 24, was sentenced Friday in the Southern District of New York, just over a month after he pleaded guilty to a criminal scheme. He was arrested in Spain in July 2021.

The infamous Twitter breach allowed the defendant and his co-conspirators to gain unauthorized access to backend tools used by Twitter, abusing them to hijack 130 popular accounts to commit crypto scams that netted them an estimated $120,000 in illegal profits.

“In another case, the conspirators sold access to Twitter accounts to others,” US Department of Justice (DoJ) said. “O’Connor communicated with others regarding purchasing unauthorized access to various Twitter accounts, including accounts associated with public figures around the world.”

The defendants have also been accused of orchestrating SIM-swap attacks to seize control of users’ Snapchat and TikTok accounts, and in one case, even targeting a New York-based cryptocurrency company to steal around $794,000 worth of crypto at the time.

“After stealing and fraudulently diverting Stolen Cryptocurrencies, O’Connor and his co-conspirators laundered dozens of transfers and transactions and exchanged them for Bitcoins using cryptocurrency exchange services,” the DoJ said.

“Eventually, some of the Stolen Cryptocurrency was deposited into a cryptocurrency exchange account controlled by O’Connor.”

Also on the list of offenses committed by O’Connor was the cyberstalking of two victims, including minors, in June and July 2020 by falsely claiming that the individual made threats to shoot people in an attempt to trigger a law enforcement response.

O’Connor, who said his crimes were “stupid and pointless,” according to to TechCrunch, also faces three years of supervised release after serving prison time. He has also been ordered forfeiting $794,000.

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