US prosecutors revealed on Friday that they have charged three men, one from Britain, with hijacking positions in celebrity Twitter accounts and tricking people out of money.
The U.S. attorney’s office in California said 19-year-old Mason “Chaewon” Sheppard of Britain was facing criminal charges in the case along with Nima Fazeli, 22, of Florida.
US authorities have not provided information about the third person, but state prosecutors in Florida have separately announced criminal charges against a 17-year-old accused of masterminding the massive hack of high-profile Twitter users.
The Twitter attack involved a combination of “software breaches and social engineering” that, according to federal prosecutors, allowed hackers to hijack accounts of politicians , celebrities and musicians.
The three defendants are suspected of hacking Twitter accounts, creating a Bitcoin account scam, and sending out hacked account impostor tweets offering double cryptocurrency deposits.
“This case serves as a perfect example of how following the money, foreign cooperation, and public-private partnerships, a suspected secret criminal organization can be effectively dismantled,” said IRS criminal investigation special agent Kelly Jackson.
State prosecutors in Florida said they filed 30 felony counts against a 17-year-old resident in Florida who they described as the cyberattack’s “mastermind.”
The you, who were arrested in Tampa, will be charged in Florida as an adult, said Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren.
The attack that Twitter said resulted from an assault on “internet spear phishing” made it possible for hackers to take control of accounts of popular people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and former US president Barack Obama, and dupe people into sending Bitcoin.
“Such crimes have been committed with the names of famous people and celebrities, but here they are not the primary victims,” Warren said in a statement.
“The object of this ‘Bit-Con’ was to steal money from ordinary Americans around the country.”