Twitter Hacker Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for $120,000 Crypto Scam


Jun 24, 2023Ravie LakshmananCyber Crime / Cryptocurrency

A U.K. citizen who took part in the massive July 2020 hack of Twitter has been sentenced to five years in prison in the U.S.

Joseph James O’Connor (aka PlugwalkJoe), 24, was awarded the sentence on Friday in the Southern District of New York, a little over a month after he pleaded guilty to the criminal schemes. He was arrested in Spain in July 2021.

The infamous Twitter breach allowed the defendant and his co-conspirators to obtain unauthorized access to backend tools used by Twitter, abusing them to hijack 130 popular accounts to perpetrate a crypto scam that netted them about $120,000 in illegal profits.

“In other instances, the co-conspirators sold access to Twitter accounts to others,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) said. “O’Connor communicated with others regarding purchasing unauthorized access to a variety of Twitter accounts, including accounts associated with public figures around the world.”

The defendant has also been accused of orchestrating SIM swapping attacks to seize control of users’ Snapchat and TikTok accounts, and in one case, even target a New York-based cryptocurrency company to steal crypto worth approximately $794,000 at the time.

“After stealing and fraudulently diverting the Stolen Cryptocurrency, O’Connor and his co-conspirators laundered it through dozens of transfers and transactions and exchanged some of it for Bitcoin using cryptocurrency exchange services,” the DoJ said.

“Ultimately, a portion of the Stolen Cryptocurrency was deposited into a cryptocurrency exchange account controlled by O’Connor.”

Also in the list of offenses committed by O’Connor is cyberstalking two victims, including a minor in June and July 2020 by falsely claiming that the individual was making threats to shoot people in an attempt to incite a law enforcement response.

O’Connor, who said his crimes were “stupid and pointless,” according to TechCrunch, also faces three years of supervised release after serving his jail term. He has also been ordered to forfeit $794,000.

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