The legal case against the teenage criminal mastermind who allegedly directed the hack of Twitter last month, has begun.
A 17-year-old Florida boy, named by Reuters as Graham Clark, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he organised the Twitter hack, that resulted in Twitter accounts of very public figures and corporations including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, tweeting a bitcoin scam that offered to double people’s bitcoin payment.
Earlier this week a man in the UK was also arrested as part of the criminal investigation. Mason Sheppard, 19, in Bognor Regis was named at the UK citizen arrested, as was American Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando.
Clark had been arrested “without incident” at his apartment last Friday by FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents, and faces 30 counts of felony.
Due to him 17 years old and classified as a teenager Clark can’t be charged as an adult under federal law, but Florida law allows minors to be charged as adults in certain cases of financial fraud.
The teenager faces one count of organised fraud, one count of accessing a computer or electronic device without authority, one count of fraudulent use of personal information, 10 counts of fraudulent use of personal information and 17 counts of communications fraud.
And now according to Reuters, Clark told Circuit Court Judge Christopher Nash in Tampa that he was not guilty of the 30 felony counts of fraud, according to court records.
Clark is scheduled to appear in court again on Wednesday for a hearing on a request to change his $750,000 bond and conditions of release. Clark’s attorney, David Weisbrod, did not immediately return a call to Reuters seeking comment.
According to Reuters, citing state officials, Clark netted at least $100,000 from the scheme by using the celebrity accounts to solicit investments from unsuspecting Twitter users.
Mason Sheppard from Bognor Regis, who used the alias Chaewon, was charged with wire fraud and money laundering while Orlando-based Nima Fazeli, 22, nicknamed Rolex, was accused of aiding and abetting the crimes, according to a Justice Department statement.
Reuters cited an affidavit alleging that Clark “used social engineering to convince a Twitter employee that he was a co-worker in the IT department. Clark also had the employee provide credentials to access the customer service portal.”
Twitter last week confirmed hackers had targeted a small number of its staff through a phone “spear phishing” attack.
Twitter said it has taken “significant steps” to limit access to account management tools while the company’s investigation continued.
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