The Florida teenager who hacked several celebrity Twitter accounts last summer, including those of former President Barack Obama and Elon Musk, has been sentenced to three years in prison. Eighteen-year-old Graham Ivan Clark pleaded guilty to 30 counts of communications fraud and other crimes on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported, after prosecutors said he racked up $117,000 in Bitcoin donations from Twitter followers whom he duped.
On July 15, Clark hacked a number of celebrity Twitter accounts as part of a cryptocurrency scam. In addition to Obama and Musk, other high-profile users hit by Clark include then-presidential nominee Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Jeff Bezos.
Once he was on a celebrity’s account, Clark asked their followers to send him Bitcoin payments with the promise they’d immediately have their money doubled and sent back to them. His tweets said the too-good-to-be-true deal — where users can send $1,000 worth of bitcoin and expect to get back $2,000 worth of bitcoin — would only be going on for about a half hour.
Here’s a look at one bogus tweet sent from Obama’s account: “I am giving back to my community due to Covid-19! All bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled. If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000!”
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement that while Clark targeted celebrity accounts, “the money he stole came from regular, hard-working people.” Clark, he added, “needed to be held accountable for that crime, and other potential scammers out there need to see the consequences.”
Clark turned over all of the Bitcoin he scammed to authorities, according to his attorney, David Weisbrod.
According to his plea deal, Clark will spend three years in a juvenile detention center, followed by three years on probation. That’s the maximum sentence he’s allowed to serve since he was 17 at the time of the hack. He’ll get credit toward his time in the juvenile facility for the seven and a half months he’s already spent in Hillsborough County jail since last summer. Two other adults, Nima Fazeli of Orlando and Mason Sheppard of the United Kingdom, have also been charged with federal crimes connected to the hack.