The young hacker accused of being the mastermind behind a breach last year of high-profile Twitter accounts pleaded guilty on Tuesday in a Florida court, agreeing to serve three years in juvenile prison.
Graham Ivan Clark, 18, faced fraud charges after a hack that compromised Twitter accounts belonging to Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, former President Barack Obama and other celebrities. Under Mr. Clark’s control, the accounts tweeted fraudulent messages soliciting Bitcoin, promising to double the money of anyone who sent cryptocurrency. The scheme netted Bitcoin worth more than $100,000 before it was shut down.
Mr. Clark’s plea agreement brings some closure to one of the oddest and most alarming episodes in Twitter’s history. In an election year that had already pulled the company into the center of American politics, the breach raised questions about Twitter’s corporate security and generated speculation that state-sponsored hackers could be responsible, rather than teenagers.
The arrest of Mr. Clark also raised questions about how someone so young could penetrate the defenses of what was supposedly one of the tech industry’s most sophisticated companies. The attack took control of Twitter’s internal systems that are used to manage accounts, and forced Twitter to temporarily block verified accounts from tweeting as the company scrambled to push the hackers out of its systems.
New York Times. He moved on to selling and swapping rare social media user names on the forum OGUsers, where he connected with other hackers who said they participated in the Twitter breach.
The hackers, who prosecutors said were led by Mr. Clark, initially used their access to Twitter’s internal systems to take over accounts with unusual user names like @dark and @vague, which they sold on OGUsers for thousands of dollars. But as the day of the attack wore on, the hackers changed tactics. Accounts belonging to celebrities and cryptocurrency companies tweeted messages that promised to double the money of anyone who sent Bitcoin.
But the offer was a scam. “No Bitcoin currency was returned as promised to these victims,” Darrell Dirks, a prosecutor with the Florida state attorney’s office, said during a court hearing on Tuesday.