A important development regarding the historic Twitter breach of 2020 is the five-year jail sentence given to Joseph O’Connor, the brains behind the phishing campaign that duped multiple Twitter users of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin. O’Connor’s participation in a different SIM swapping scam is also taken into consideration in the sentence, which was handed down by Judge Jed Rakoff on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. O’Connor has fewer than three years left in his sentence since the court gave him credit for the 28 months he has already served.
Judge Rakoff stressed the serious consequences of cryptocurrency crimes during the sentence, saying, “Cryptocurrency crimes are too readily disregarded as merely involving money. However, lives were affected. Other young people’s lives were damaged by him in the crimes in California. The US government’s request for the seizure or repayment of $2 million in connection with O’Connor’s offenses was also taken into account by the court.
Using the Twitter username “PlugWalkJoe,” O’Connor planned to hack more than 100 well-known Twitter accounts in July 2020. In order to get Bitcoin from unwitting followers, they used hacked accounts belonging to CoinDesk, Coinbase, Binance, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Kim Kardashian, Apple, Uber, and CashApp, among others. In exchange for the money they received, the con artists allegedly promised to transfer back BTC.
Before Twitter deleted the fake postings, O’Connor was able to profit from the operation by $103,960 in total. Notably, O’Connor joins Nima Fazeli, Mason John Sheppard, and Graham Clark as the fourth co-conspirator connected to the hack.
O’Connor managed to elude law enforcement for over a year before being captured in Spain at the behest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in contrast to the other three suspects who were detained soon after the breach. Then, last month, he was extradited to the US to answer to accusations.
Graham Clark, who was just seventeen years old at the time of the hack, was identified as the group’s mastermind and received a three-year jail term in March 2021 after pleading guilty to 30 felonies.
O’Connor entered a guilty plea to both the Twitter hack and a another SIM switching scam. He used prominent executives in the cryptocurrency sector as his targets for this operation, and he was successful in stealing a significant amount of digital assets worth $780,000. A total of 7.456728 Bitcoin (BTC), 6.363.490509 Litecoin (LTC), 407.396074 Ethereum (ETH), and 770.784869 Bitcoin Cash (BCH) were among the stolen valuables. The value of these coins has roughly increased by a factor of two to $1.6 million since the heist.
Olga Zverovich, an assistant US attorney, emphasized the gravity of O’Connor’s acts by emphasizing that he targeted Americans while working from abroad. She also mentioned his use of mixers and tumblers to impede the flow of money, complicating attempts at recovery.
Authorities have made great progress in holding those liable for the well-publicized Twitter hack of 2020, which resulted in monetary losses and disturbed the lives of countless victims, with Joseph O’Connor’s imprisonment.