Alleged mastermind of Twitter bitcoin hack is just 17
TAMPA, Fla. (WKBT) — The irony is, perhaps, that the name of the alleged mastermind behind the hacks of Twitter accounts of some of the biggest names in the world is cloaked in the secrecy of being a minor.
Authorities arrested the 17-year-old boy Friday in Tampa and slapped him with 30 felony charges, according to the office of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.
The charges include organized fraud, communications fraud, fraudulent use of personal information and access of computer or electronic device without authority.
“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they’re not the primary victims here,” according to a statement from Warren’s office.
“This ‘Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida,” the statement said. “This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that.”
Two adults also were charged in the Northern District of California, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. They are:
• Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” 19, of Bognor Regis, in the United Kingdom, was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and the intentional access of a protected computer.
• Nima Fazeli, aka “Rolex,” 22, of Orlando, Fla, was charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.
The arrests came in connection with bogus tweets sent July 15 from the accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
The tweets offered to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address, and the scam could have garnered as much as $100,000, authorities said.
Twitter acknowledged the arrests and charges in a — no big surprise — tweet that said, “We appreciate the swift actions of law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case progresses. For our part, we are focused on being transparent and providing updates regularly.”
FYI, as of Friday, one bitcoin was worth 11,318.80. A website that features futures on bitcoin prices includes various predictions that the price could reach $1 million in 10 to 20 years.