Teenage ‘Mastermind’ Behind Twitter Hack Arrested in Florida

Recent hack hit several famous users, including Barack Obama and Elon Musk

Last Updated: July 31, 2020 @ 1:06 PM

A 17-year-old Florida teenager was arrested on Friday, accused of being the “mastermind” behind the recent Twitter hack earlier this month that impacted a number of famous users, including former President Barack Obama and Tesla chief Elon Musk. Soon after the arrest, the Justice Department charged two other adults for their role in the hack.

The FBI, IRS, U.S. Secret Service and local Florida police worked together to arrest the teen in Tampa. The male teen has been hit with 30 felony charges, including identity theft, organized fraud and hacking, and is currently in jail, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said on Friday. Authorities did not release his name.

Authorities said the teen spearheaded the July 15 hack, or “Bit-Con” as they’re calling it, by taking over prominent accounts and asking their followers to send bitcoin to a particular address. The hackers received more than $100,000 in bitcoin by promising followers they would double any payments they sent to his address. Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Kanye West were among the other celebrities who had their accounts compromised.

“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they’re not the primary victims here. This ‘Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida. This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that,” Warren said.

Twitter shared a message soon after the arrest, saying the company appreciated “the swift actions of law enforcement in this investigation.”

The Justice Department on Friday also charged 19-year-old Mason “Chaewon” Sheppard and 22-year-old Nima “Rolex” Fazeli for their roles in the hack. Federal authorities said Sheppard was charged for “conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer”; Fazeli was charged with “aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.”