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Twitter hacker receives 5-year prison sentence for $120,000 crypto scam

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Twitter hacker receives 5-year prison sentence for $120,000 crypto scam

Joseph James O’Connor, a U.K. citizen involved in the high-profile Twitter hack of July 2020, has been sentenced to five years in prison in the United States. The sentencing took place in the Southern District of New York, just over a month after O’Connor pleaded guilty to his involvement in the criminal activities. He was apprehended in Spain in July 2021.

The notorious Twitter breach allowed O’Connor and his co-conspirators to gain unauthorized access to backend tools employed by Twitter, which they exploited to hijack 130 prominent accounts. These compromised accounts were then used to carry out a cryptocurrency scam, resulting in illicit profits amounting to approximately $120,000.

“In addition, the co-conspirators also sold access to Twitter accounts to others,” stated the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). “O’Connor engaged in discussions with various individuals regarding the purchase of unauthorized access to a wide range of Twitter accounts, including those associated with notable public figures worldwide.”

Moreover, O’Connor stands accused of orchestrating SIM swapping attacks to seize control of users’ Snapchat and TikTok accounts. In one particular case, he targeted a cryptocurrency company based in New York, successfully stealing cryptocurrency valued at around $794,000 at the time.

Subsequently, O’Connor and his accomplices laundered the stolen cryptocurrency through multiple transfers and transactions, some of which involved exchanging it for Bitcoin using cryptocurrency exchange services, as disclosed by the DoJ. A portion of the stolen funds was ultimately deposited into a cryptocurrency exchange account under O’Connor’s control.

Additionally, O’Connor was found guilty of cyberstalking two victims, one of whom was a minor, in June and July 2020. By falsely alleging that the targeted individuals were making threats to harm others, O’Connor aimed to provoke a response from law enforcement.

TechCrunch reported that O’Connor acknowledged the futility and senselessness of his crimes. After serving his prison term, he will also be subject to three years of supervised release. Furthermore, he has been ordered to forfeit $794,000.

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