Florida teenager, 17, is charged with masterminding massive Twitter hack

Yolanda Curtis
July 31, 2020

He was arrested in Tampa on July 31.

A Florida teen hacked the Twitter accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities and technology moguls to scam people around globe out of more than $100,000 in Bitcoin, authorities said Friday.

Twitter has provided an update on its recent hack which saw multiple high-profile users hijacked to spread a Bitcoin scam generating over $100,000 for hackers.

The Tampa teenager managed to gain access to numerous Twitter accounts, including those of former US President Barack Obama, US presidential candidate Joe Biden, billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, rapper Kanye West and his wife, model Kim Kardashian.

The minor was arrested on Friday morning in Tampa after an investigation conducted by federal and state investigators, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement Friday.

The hackers used credentials from Twitter employees to access Twitter's internal systems and gain an insight into how the site operates, which then allowed them to target employees who had access to account support tools.

Hillsborough County Jail records show the teen was booked into jail shortly after 6.30am on Friday.

Graham Clark has been met with 30 felony charges, including hacking, identity theft, organized fraud, and communications fraud - all in connection with the historic hack.

The hacked tweets told their followers to send Bitcoin to a certain address, with the promised exchange of double the amount of Bitcoin in return. The company blames a "phone spear phishing attack" on employees for granting access to internal systems for the hackers.

Faked tweets were sent from 45 accounts, according to Twitter, and the hackers accessed private messages of 36 and downloaded Twitter data from seven.

Twitter says it is taking a "hard look" at how it can improve the sophistication of its internal tools and systems, and in the meantime it has significantly limited access to them until it can safely resume normal operations. Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders has said his inbox was among those accessed.

There was a report that said access came from finding logins in a Slack channel, but Twitter has not confirmed it.

It is also possible the hackers pretended to call from the company's legitimate help line by spoofing the number, he said.

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