FBI charges juvenile, two others over celebrity Twitter hack

FBI
FBI

The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has charged three persons including a juvenile over their alleged roles in the Twitter security incident that resulted in a cryptocurrency scam worth thousands of dollars.

On July 15, PREMIUM TIMES (reported how) the social media giant was infiltrated by hackers who broke into 130 accounts, including those belonging to ex-President Barack Obama, ex-Vice President Joe Biden and billionaires Bill Gates and Elon Musk.

The announcement of the charge was made by United States Attorney David L. Anderson; Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; FBI Special Agent in Charge John L. Bennett; and some other officials.

The three facing charges are Mason Sheppard, Nima Fazeli and a juvenile, whose identity was protected in pursuant to the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act.

Mason Sheppard, also known as “Chaewon,” 19, of Bognor Regis, in the United Kingdom, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of California with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer.

Nima Fazeli, aka “Rolex,” 22, of Orlando, Florida, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of California with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.


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The Justice Department has however referred the juvenile involved to the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial District in Tampa, Florida.

“There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California.

“Today’s charging announcement demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived. Criminal conduct over the Internet may feel stealthy to the people who perpetrate it, but there is nothing stealthy about it. In particular, I want to say to would-be offenders, break the law, and we will find you,” he added.

The hackers are alleged to have created a scam bitcoin account, to have hacked into Twitter VIP accounts, to have sent solicitations from the Twitter VIP accounts with a false promise to double any bitcoin deposits made to the scam account, and then to have stolen the bitcoin that victims deposited into the scam account.

As alleged in the complaints, the scam bitcoin account received more than 400 transfers worth more than $100,000.

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Francisco Division, with assistance from the IRS-Criminal Investigation Cyber Unit; the U.S. Secret Service, San Francisco and Headquarters; the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and their REACT task force and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The case is currently being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Frentzen and Andrew Dawson of the Northern District of California and Senior Counsel Adrienne Rose of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.



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