A British man has pleaded guilty to participating in plots to hack into the Twitter accounts of celebrities such as Joe Biden and Elon Musk, as well as steal $794,000 in cryptocurrencies.
After being extradited from Spain on April 26, Joseph James O’Connor, 23, entered a guilty plea in a New York court. He was detained in Spain nearly two years ago for hacking over 130 Twitter accounts in July 2020, including those of Apple, Uber, Kanye West, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Elon Musk, who now owns the social media site.
He and others in his hacking group hijacked the accounts and asked the owners’ followers to send them Bitcoin, promising to double their money. In 2019, the group used a technique known as sim card swaps to break into the social media accounts of two media stars, who were not named in court filings but were identified in press reports as TikTok star Addison Rae and actor Belly Thorne, and threatened to release their private images and other information.
Graham Ivan Clark, the suspected mastermind of the hacking ring, was sentenced to three years in juvenile jail under a plea agreement in July 2021.
Clark, who was only 17 at the time of his arrest, received the maximum term authorized under Florida’s Youthful Offender Act.