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UK man arrested for massive Twitter hack that targeted Biden, Musk in 2020

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James Martin/CNET

A UK man was arrested in Spain for his alleged role in a massive hack of high-profile Twitter accounts that targeted politicians and celebrities in 2020, the US Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Spanish National Police arrested 22-year-old Joseph O’Connor on behalf of US authorities. In a criminal complaint filed in federal court in San Francisco, O’Connor was also charged with computer intrusions related to takeovers of TikTok and Snapchat user accounts, along with cyberstalking a juvenile. O’Connor was charged with a total of 10 counts.

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Hackers took over more than 130 accounts, including those of Joe Biden, Elon MuskBill GatesKanye West and Barack Obama, in July 2020 and duped people into sending more than $100,000 of Bitcoin to addresses cited in the tweets. The widespread hack raised concerns about whether Twitter was doing enough to protect the security of its users ahead of the US presidential election.

Twitter said the hack was the result of a “coordinated social engineering attack” on its employees.

O’Connor isn’t the only person who’s been arrested in connection with the hack. Last year, the Department of Justice filed 30 felony charges against Florida teenager Graham Ivan Clark, who was 17 at the time. Clark, accused of being the “mastermind” behind the Twitter hack, then pleaded guilty in exchange for a three-year prison sentence. 

It wasn’t immediately clear if O’Connor had legal representation.

Two other people, UK resident Mason Sheppard and Florida resident Nima Fazeli, were also arrested for their alleged role in the hack. 

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