Twitter hacking: Bognor Regis man one of the three accused


Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian and Barack Obama are among the victims of the hack

A man living in Bognor Regis – on the UK’s south coast – is one of three people accused of a major Twitter hack, according to the US Department of Justice.

Authorities in California have filed felony charges against 19-year-old Mason Sheppard.

The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) confirmed it searched a property in Bognor Regis with police on Friday.

A teenager from Tampa and Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, have also been charged in Florida.

US Prosecutor David L Anderson said the arrests proved “malicious hacking … for fun or for profit” has not borne fruit.

The Twitter accounts of several high profile American figures were hijacked in an apparent Bitcoin scam on July 15.

They included former President Barack Obama, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, entrepreneur Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, who all falsely tweeted requests for Bitcoin donations.

In his statement, US Attorney Anderson said, “There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be carried out anonymously and without consequence. ”

He added: “Criminal conduct on the Internet may seem stealthy to those who commit it, but there is nothing stealthy about it. In particular, I mean potential offenders, break the law, and we’ll find you. ”

In Florida, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has filed 30 felony charges against the 17-year-old, who cannot be named, for “scamming people across America”.

The charges include organized fraud and the fraudulent use of personal information.

“As a cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is difficult to track and recover if it is stolen as part of a scam,” Mr. Warren said.

“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they are not the main victims here. This ‘Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from ordinary Americans across the country, including here in Florida.

“This massive fraud has been orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand it. “

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Kim Kardashian West, Kanye West, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Barack Obama have all been ‘hacked’

The charges against the teenager include 17 counts of communication fraud, 10 counts of fraudulent use of personal information, one count of fraudulent use of personal information with over $ 100,000 (£ 76,340) or 30 or more victims, one count of organized fraud and one count of accessing computers or electronic devices without authorization.

“He’s a 17-year-old kid who apparently just graduated from high school,” Prosecutor Warren said. “But make no mistake, he was no ordinary 17 year old. It was a very sophisticated attack on a scale never seen before. ”

He added that the investigation to “find the perpetrator” was a collaboration between the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Northern District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the IRS and the secret Service.

The teenager lives in Tampa, Florida, and will therefore be prosecuted by authorities in the state of Hillsborough.

Twitter said in a statement, “We appreciate the prompt actions of law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to cooperate as the matter progresses.

“For our part, we strive to be transparent and provide regular updates. ”

After the hack, Twitter said the hackers targeted its employees “with access to internal systems and tools.”

He added that “significant steps” had been taken to limit access to these internal systems and tools while the company’s investigation continued.

According to BBC cybersecurity reporter Joe Tidy, the consensus in the information security community is that Twitter workers were likely tricked into a spear-phishing attack via a phone call.

It involves using friendly persuasion and deception to trick victims into passing on crucial information that allows hackers to infiltrate a company’s systems.


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