UK Man Who Hacked Elon Musk’s Twitter Account Could Face
A UK man pleaded guilty this week to multiple counts of hacking, cyberstalking and stealing cryptocurrency, as well as the widely reported hack of multiple celebrities’ Twitter accounts in 2020.
23-year-old Joseph James O’Connor, aka PlugwalkJoe, participated in a plurality of crimes associated with exploitation of social media accounts, online extortion and cyberstalking.
In July 2020, O’Connor enlisted the help of fellow “conspirators” to obtain access to Twitter’s IT infrastructure and take control of various high-profile accounts, including those of Apple, Uber, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Musk.
“In some instances, the co-conspirators took control themselves and used that control to launch a scheme to defraud other Twitter users,” said the US Department of Justice. “In other instances, the co-conspirators sold access to Twitter accounts to others.”
O’Connor hijacked various accounts and tricked followers into sending cryptocurrency to an address in his control, promising to double their money.
In another instance, O’Connor used SIM swapping to hack into popular TikTok accounts to post self-promotional messages, including a video in which his voice is recognizable.
He threatened the victims that he would release sensitive, personal materials and, in one case involving a Snapchat user, he sent copies of sensitive materials to his co-conspirators.
O’Connor also stalked and threatened a minor.
In another SIM swapping scheme, O’Connor and his fellow hackers stole some $794,000 from a Manhattan-based cryptocurrency company.
After stealing and diverting the funds, O’Connor and his crew went on to launder the crypto through dozens of transfers and transactions and exchanged some of it for Bitcoin using cryptocurrency exchange services, court documents say.
O’Connor pleaded guilty to all charges in a New York court this week. He also agreed to forfeit $794,012.64 and to make restitution to victims. If found guilty of all counts, he faces up to 72 years behind bars.