One of the suspects behind the infamous Twitter hack that targeted celebrity accounts is facing new charges in connection with a digital currency-related crime. The U.K. man is charged with aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allegedly stealing $784,000 in digital currencies through a series of SIM-swap attacks.
Joseph James O’Connor was charged in Manhattan over allegedly stealing BTC, Ether, and Litecoin, Reuters reports. Authorities said O’Connor and his accomplices, who are yet to be arraigned in court, engaged in SIM-swap attacks in which they took control of the victim’s accounts and drained them.
The scheme allegedly ran from March to May 2019 and targeted three Manhattan digital currency firm executives. After gaining access to the executives’ online identities, the suspects allegedly stole the digital currencies from two clients of the Manhattan firm. They then laundered the money they stole, Reuters reports.
The charges against the 22-year-old include aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit computer hacking. If he’s convicted of the crimes, he will face over two decades behind bars.
The SIM-swap attacks are the latest charges against O’Connor, known as PlugwalkJoe in online circles, which involve digital currencies. O’Connor has been named as one of the men behind the 2020 Twitter hack that targeted the accounts of political figures, celebrities, and digital currency companies.
Investigators said O’Connor and his accomplices, one of whom was still a teenager at the time, tricked some Twitter staff members into giving up their access credentials. They then took over several accounts with millions of followers and conducted a digital currency scam that sought to trick victims into sending them BTC.
Some of the people whose accounts they took over include U.S. President Joe Biden (he wasn’t president at the time), Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, revered investor Warren Buffett, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, ride-hailing giant Uber, reality TV superstar Kim Kardashian, and rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.
They also targeted some digital currency personalities and companies including TRON founder Justin Sun, Binance exchange and its controversial founder Changpeng Zhao.
The hack reportedly raked in $118,000 worth of BTC.
Graham Ivan Clark, the teenager who worked with PlugwalkJoe on the scam, pleaded guilty earlier this year to the charges and is serving time in a juvenile prison.
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