On Wednesday, a 22-year-old man was arrested in Spain in connection with the hacking of more than 100 Twitter accounts that occurred last July, making him the fourth person to be charged in connection with the incident, which resulted in the temporary shutdown of the social media service.
According to the Justice Department, the man, Joseph O’Connor, is facing charges in the United States of hacking, extortion, and cyberstalking in connection with the Twitter breach. He is also accused of hacking the TikTok account of popular creator Addison Rae Easterling and the Snapchat account of actress Bella Thorne.
According to some of the individuals involved at the time, the Twitter incident began when the hackers connected last year in an online forum devoted to the buying and selling of rare user names, which was covered by The New York Times. According to legal filings, they then gained access to Twitter’s systems by duping employees into providing login information. It was revealed in court filings that the hackers used an administrative tool to gain control of accounts belonging to political figures and celebrities, including former President Barack Obama, Kanye West, and Elon Musk, and then used the accounts to run a Bitcoin scam.
During a March hearing in a Florida court, Graham Ivan Clark, an 18-year-old who prosecutors claimed was the “mastermind” of the Twitter hack, admitted to fraud charges and agreed to serve three years in a juvenile detention centre. Mason Sheppard and Nima Fazeli, two other people, were taken into custody and accused of acting as middlemen for Mr. Clark in order to sell the Twitter accounts.
As “PlugWalkJoe,” Mr. O’Connor was a well-known figure among hackers who dealt in user names, and he was well-known in the hacking community. In chat logs provided to The New York Times by the hackers in July, Mr. O’Connor interacted with the group for a short period of time, acquiring the Twitter handle @6.
Mr. O’Connor stated at the time that he was not involved in the Bitcoin scam. In an interview, he stated, “I couldn’t care less.” “They can come and take me into custody. I would snort and laugh at them. “I haven’t done anything,” I say.
Twitter’s logs revealed that a Twitter account belonging to Mr. O’Connor viewed several accounts, as if he were out shopping, during the hack, according to an affidavit submitted by an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who conducted an investigation into the breach and submitted it to the court.
In June of this year, according to the affidavit, a hacker gained access to Ms. Thorne’s Snapchat account. Unless Ms. Thorne sent a thank-you tweet to the hacker for restoring her account, according to the affidavit, the hacker threatened to release nude photos discovered on her computer.
Instead, Ms. Thorne shared the images with her followers on Twitter. According to a statement that accompanied the photographs, she said she felt “gross,” “watched,” and “like someone had taken something from me.” “Knowing that I reclaimed my power allows me to sleep better tonight. “You will never be able to control my life.”
According to the affidavit, Mr. O’Connor filed false police reports in June 2020, threatening violence at schools, restaurants, an airport, and a residence in Southern California, among other places. According to the affidavit, the threats were an attempt to draw attention to a youth who lived in the area and had engaged in online conflict with Mr. O’Connor. According to the affidavit, Mr. O’Connor also sent threatening messages and nude photos to the young women.
Hackers gained control of Ms. Easterling’s TikTok account in August, a month after the Twitter breach. Her account had more than 55 million followers at the time. Mrs. O’Connor’s Facebook page was updated with the message “plugwalkjoe zak n crippin,” which appears to be a reference to Mr. O’Connor’s online moniker.
According to the affidavit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered that Ms. Easterling’s account was accessed during the hack by internet protocol addresses associated with Mr. O’Connor. According to the affidavit, they also discovered screenshots of her Snapchat account that had been saved in Mr. O’Connor’s Snapchat.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. Representatives for Snap, TikTok, Ms. Thorne, and Ms. Easterling did not respond to requests for comment within a reasonable amount of time.
Mr. O’Connor, a British national, faces extradition to the United States, where he will be prosecuted in the Northern California district court. Mr. O’Connor’s legal representation could not be immediately determined.