A Briton was arrested in Spain in connection with the July 2020 Twitter hack that resulted in more than 130 celebrity-owned accounts scamming their Bitcoin subscribers.
Following the incident, Twitter confirmed that a coordinated social engineering attack had allowed criminals to post tweets celebrity accounts offering to send $ 2,000 for every $ 1,000 sent to a Bitcoin address.
Joseph O’Connor, 22, who was known online as PlugWalkJoe and had previously given media interviews about the incident, was arrested in Estepona, Spain on Wednesday by Spanish National Police on request from the FBI.
O’Connor is also accused of hijacking accounts on other social media platforms, including TikTok and Snapchat, as well as cyberstalking an underage victim.
Twitter confirmed that 130 accounts were targeted by criminals in the July 2020 hack, 45 of which were used to send tweets. Criminals also accessed the DM inboxes of 36 users and downloaded the Twitter data of seven.
Fraudulent messages have been posted by accounts owned by Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and Bill Gates, among others.
According to the Justice Department, the criminals’ Bitcoin address has received more than 400 transfers worth over $ 117,000 (£ 90,000). Of course, no money was returned.
O’Connor is the second Briton to be arrested in connection with the incident, alongside teenager Bognor Regis Mason Sheppard who was accused of involvement last August.
The amateurish quality of the scam surprised viewers about the effectiveness of the attackers in gaining access to their targets’ accounts.
Similar scam messages regarding cryptocurrency giveaways reached epidemic levels on Twitter in 2018, when a Sky News investigation found accounts impersonate Elon Musk to steal thousands of pounds a day – but these have always been posted from fake accounts.