US prosecutors on Friday announced they have charged three people, one of them from Britain, for roles in hijacking celebrity Twitter accounts and tricking people out of money.
The US attorney’s office in California said 19-year-old Mason “Chaewon” Sheppard of Britain along with Nima Fazeli, 22, of Florida were facing criminal charges in the case.
Details about the third individual were not released by US officials, but state prosecutors in Florida separately announced criminal charges against a 17-year-old accused of masterminding the massive hack of high-profile Twitter users.
The attack on Twitter involved a combination of “technical breaches and social engineering” that let hackers hijack accounts of politicians, celebrities, and musicians, according to federal prosecutors.
The three defendants are accused of hacking Twitter accounts, creating a scam Bitcoin account, and sending out imposter tweets from hijacked account offering to double cryptocurrency deposits.
“This case serves as a great example of how following the money, international collaboration, and public-private partnerships can work to successfully take down a perceived anonymous criminal enterprise,” said IRS criminal investigation special agent Kelly Jackson.
State Prosecutors in Florida said they filed 30 felony counts against a 17-year-old Florida resident they described as the “mastermind” of the cyberattack.
The you, arrested in Tampa, will be tried as an adult in Florida, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said.
The attack which Twitter said resulted from a “phone spear phishing” attack enabled hackers to take control of accounts of famous people such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk and former US president Barack Obama and dupe people into sending Bitcoin.
“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they’re not the primary victims here,” Warren said in a release.
“This ‘Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country.”