The hackers behind the Twitter-Celebrity-Bitcoin scam have been arrested, including a 17 year old “mastermind” from Florida with two other accomplices.
We previously reported how Elon Musk and many other famous faces and companies have seemingly had their Twitter accounts hacked, and used for a scam that has generated (at that time of writing) almost $60,000 USD in bitcoin.
As the story updated, alleged images of Twitter’s Admin panel were revealed. Therein it appeared users were marked with labels such as “Compromised,” “Trends Blacklist,” “Search Blacklist,” and “ReadOnly”. Twitter has long been “shadow banning” users- preventing their tweets from being seen by others while the user is unaware.
Now, Vice reports that the 17 year old “mastermind” behind the hack has been arrested by the combined efforts of the FBI, IRS, US Secret Service, and Florida law enforcement. Along with the unnamed 17 year old from Tampa, Florida; two others were formally charged.
These were Nima Fazeli (22, Orlando, Florida) and Mason Sheppard (19, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, United Kingdom). The pair used the screen names “Rolex” and “Chaewon” respectively.
The Department of Justice [1, 2] explain the charges. Fazeli is charged with “aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.” Sheppard meanwhile was charged with “conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer.”
The 17 year old however, is being tried as a juvenile. “With exceptions that do not apply to this case, juvenile proceedings in federal court are sealed to protect the identity of the juvenile.” While some outlets may have published the name of this individual, we will not.
U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson made clear in a statement that anonymity would not protect hackers committing cybercrime.
“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 Department of Justice states that the breach occurred through “a combination of technical breaches and social engineering.” This gave the hackers access to 130 Twitter accounts, which then promised to double bitcoin deposited made into a scam bitcoin account. The account received over 400 transfers worth more than $100,000 USD.
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