A British teenager has been charged with hacking Twitter and stealing thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin by taking over the accounts of celebrities and top businessmen.
The US Department of Justice charged Mason Sheppard, 19, of Bognor Regis, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer.
Mr Sheppard was one of three people charged with the hack, which took place earlier this month and saw accounts belonging to Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Barack Obama hijacked and used to post links to Bitcoin wallets along with false claims that payments would be matched.
More than $100,000 was stolen in the scam, the DoJ said. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 45 years in prison.
US Attorney David L. Anderson said: 'Criminal conduct over the Internet may feel stealthy to the people who perpetrate it, but there is nothing stealthy about it.'
Sheppard, also known as 'Chaewon,' 19, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of California.
The charges were conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer.
Nima Fazeli, also known as 'Rolex,' 22, of Orlando, Florida, was charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.
The third defendant is a juvenile who will not be identified, the justice department said.
Anderson said: 'There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence.
'Today's charging announcement demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived.
'Criminal conduct over the Internet may feel stealthy to the people who perpetrate it, but there is nothing stealthy about it. In particular, I want to say to would-be offenders, break the law, and we will find you.'
The criminal complaints says the Twitter attack consisted of a combination of technical breaches and social engineering.
'The result of the Twitter hack was the compromise of approximately 130 Twitter accounts pertaining to politicians, celebrities, and musicians,' it says.
'The hackers are alleged to have created a scam bitcoin account, to have hacked into Twitter VIP accounts, to have sent solicitations from the Twitter VIP accounts with a false promise to double any bitcoin deposits made to the scam account, and then to have stolen the bitcoin that victims deposited into the scam account.
'As alleged in the complaints, the scam bitcoin account received more than 400 transfers worth more than 100,000 US dollars (£76,000).
'The defendants are alleged to have victimised the Twitter VIP users whose accounts were hacked. The defendants are alleged to have victimised the people who sent bitcoin in response to the scam solicitations.'
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