At the weekend, specifically, 31st July, three arrests took place following a breach at Twitter on 15th July.

The most notable arrest is that of a 17 year old from Tampa, Florida. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) did not reveal the name of the hacker as they are a minor.

The teen is allegedly the “mastermind” behind the hack of Twitter, but they did not act alone. Also arrested was 22 year old Nima Fazeli from Orlando, Florida and 19 year old Mason Sheppard of Bognor Regis in the UK.

While Fazeli has a rather short rap sheet with just “aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer”, the other two may have a hard time ahead of them.

“Mason Sheppard, aka ‘Chaewon,’ 19, of Bognor Regis, in the United Kingdom, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of California with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer,” said the DOJ.

The minor is charged with:

  • Organised fraud – 1 count
  • Communications fraud – 17 counts
  • Fraudulent use of personal information – 1 count
  • Fraudulent use of personal information – 10 counts
  • Access computer or electronic device without authority – 1 count

While the DOJ didn’t list the charge sheet of the minor, as the alleged “mastermind” we suspect their punishment will be more severe.

Strangely, it wasn’t a clue that the trio left behind which got them caught, but seemingly the Bitcoin they tried to get away with.

According to a report by The Verge, Sheppard used a driver’s licence to verify himself with Binance and Coinbase exchanges. His account was found to have sent and received the Bitcoin that was acquired through scams.

The other hacker, Fazeli also used their driver’s licence to verify with Coinbase.

“Washington DC Field Office Cyber Crimes Unit analyzed the blockchain and de-anonymised Bitcoin transactions allowing for the identification of two different hackers. This case serves as a great example of how following the money, international collaboration, and public-private partnerships can work to successfully take down a perceived anonymous criminal enterprise,” special agent Kelly R Jackson said in a statement.

It is alleged that the minor who has been named the mastermind convinced a Twitter employee that they were a member of the IT department. From there the teen was able to convince the Twitter employee to hand over their credentials.

All things tolled, authorities responded to this incident incredibly quickly. Of course, it helps when the criminals you’re searching for use wallets tied to their names to take in their earnings.

The social engineering might’ve been smart, but using your own Bitcoin account to receive your ill-gotten gains is not.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.