Lease in Twitter hack: $ 725,000. Tampa teenager’s assets: $ 3 million in Bitcoin

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TAMPA – The teenager accused of orchestrating the Twitter hacking of celebrity and big business accounts as part of an illicit attempt to obtain Bitcoin had his bond set on Saturday:

It’s $ 725,000.

But Graham’s defense attorney Ivan Clark, 17, said his client had more than $ 3 million worth of Bitcoin.

His bail is six times what he’s accused of stealing last month in an elaborate scheme that officials say took place online on July 15. in a few hours.

Authorities say the Tampa teenager is the “mastermind” of the conspiracy, in which he used high profile Twitter accounts including former Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Kim Kardashian to solicit Bitcoin. In his first court appearance on Saturday, authorities described in more detail how they say he was successful.

Clark was in the county jail, but appeared on a video screen in a small courtroom before County Judge Joelle Ann Ober inside the Hillsborough County Courthouse annex building.

He faces state charges because he is a minor, according to federal authorities, and was being held without bond when he was arrested on Friday. Two other people involved in the scheme face federal charges in California.

Under Florida law, it would take 10% of Saturday’s bail – $ 72,500 – to release Clark while awaiting trial.

Related: Tampa teenager arrested in hacking Twitter accounts of Obama, Bill Gates, Kanye West and more

Graham Ivan Clark, 17, of Tampa, made his first court appearance on Saturday after being arrested for hacking famous Twitter accounts. His bond was set at $ 750,000. [ JOSH SOLOMON | Times ]

The two sides argued over the appropriate amount of bail for a 17-year-old facing 30 criminal charges.

Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney Darrell Dirks called Corey Monaghan, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent, to testify.

The agent said Clark hired Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, and Mason Sheppard, 19, of the UK, “as proxies” to “manipulate” Twitter employees into giving up the job. ‘access to the company’s system. He declined to elaborate on how Fazeli and Sheppard, who face federal charges in the Northern District of California, manipulated the employees.

Twitter updated a blog post it posted on Thursday after the scheme unfolded, calling the hack of its systems “social engineering” that targeted “a small number of employees via a phone phishing attack.” to obtain their credentials and access Twitter systems.

“This attack was based on a significant and concerted attempt to mislead certain employees and exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access to our internal systems,” the company wrote.

the New York Times reported in July that the hacker gained access to Twitter’s internal Slack messaging system and took control of special tools that can be used to take control of any Twitter account.

Prosecutors requested $ 1 million per charge bond for each of Clark’s 30 counts and argued that Florida case law says he must prove that the money used to post his bond was legitimately obtained.

“Because, based on the conduct of this defendant, I think it’s appropriate to assume that every penny this defendant has access to is from ill-gotten gains,” the prosecutor said. “And we’re talking millions of dollars.”

Defense lawyer David Weisbrod denied that his client’s property was illegally obtained. He told the judge that Clark was the subject of a criminal investigation last year by prosecutors in Hillsborough and Santa Clara, California. They obtained a search warrant and seized approximately $ 15,000 in cash from Clark, plus 400 Bitcoin, Weisbrod said.

When prosecutors refused to charge Clark in April, his defense attorney said, they returned the money and 300 Bitcoin, worth more than $ 3 million. Weisbrod argued that this legitimizes these assets.

“I can’t think of any greater indication of legitimacy than law enforcement that makes the money,” Weisbrod said. He asked the judge to set the bond at $ 20,000.

The judge decided to set the bond at $ 25,000 for 29 counts. For the 30th charge, the judge ordered that if Clark posts bail, he must wear an electronic monitor and be confined to his home, except for visits to the doctor or his lawyer. The judge banned him from accessing the internet on any device and ordered the 17-year-old to return his passport if he has one.

Some of the celebrities who officials said were hijacked by Clark included presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Wiz Khalifa, Floyd Mayweather, Elon Musk and Kanye West. A handful of companies have also seen their accounts hacked, including Apple and Uber. Twitter said the hackers had access to 130 Twitter accounts and tweeted from 45.

Clark faces 17 counts of communications fraud, 11 counts of fraudulent use of personal information and one count of organized fraud over $ 5,000 and accessing a computer or electronic device without authorization.

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