- Joseph James O’Connor, a 24-year-old UK citizen, was sentenced to 5 years in prison for his role in the July 2020 Twitter hack and other cybercrimes. He pleaded guilty to charges of gaining unauthorized access to Twitter’s tools, hijacking accounts, stealing cryptocurrency and cyberstalking.
- The widespread Twitter hack compromised 130 accounts, including those of politicians, celebrities and major companies. The accounts were used to perpetrate a cryptocurrency scam that netted $120,000 in illegal profits. O’Connor was also accused of orchestrating attacks to take over Snapchat and TikTok accounts and stealing $794,000 in cryptocurrency from a New York company.
A UK citizen involved in the July 2020 Twitter hack pleaded guilty to multiple cybercrimes in the US and was sentenced to 5 years in prison on Friday. Joseph James O’Connor, 24, was part of a conspiracy that hijacked over 130 Twitter accounts, including those of politicians and celebrities, to perpetrate a cryptocurrency scam.
According to the US Department of Justice, O’Connor worked with co-conspirators to gain unauthorized access to Twitter’s internal tools and seize control of popular Twitter accounts. They used the compromised accounts to scam victims out of $120,000 in cryptocurrency. O’Connor was also accused of orchestrating SIM swapping attacks to take over Snapchat and TikTok accounts, and stealing $794,000 in cryptocurrency from a New York crypto company.
“After stealing and fraudulently diverting the Stolen Cryptocurrency, O’Connor and his co-conspirators laundered it through dozens of transfers and transactions and exchanged some of it for Bitcoin using cryptocurrency exchange services,” the DoJ statement read. “Ultimately, a portion of the Stolen Cryptocurrency was deposited into a cryptocurrency exchange account controlled by O’Connor.”
The large-scale Twitter hack made headlines worldwide in 2020 after high-profile accounts like those of Barack Obama, Elon Musk and Bill Gates were compromised to promote a cryptocurrency scam. The accounts were hacked using social engineering to access Twitter’s internal account support tools.
In addition to the 5-year prison sentence, O’Connor faces 3 years of supervised release and has been ordered to forfeit $794,000 gained from his cybercrimes. Though O’Connor claimed his offenses were “stupid and pointless,” the far-reaching impacts of major security breaches like the Twitter hack highlight the severity of such intrusions. This sentencing marks an end to another chapter in the ongoing efforts to bring the perpetrators of large-scale cyberattacks to justice.