The government showed it was not playing around today when it went after a UK citizen in Spain in connection with hacking several Twitter accounts.
A citizen of the United Kingdom was arrested today in Estepona, Spain, by Spanish National Police pursuant to a U.S. request for his arrest on multiple charges in connection with the July 2020 hack of Twitter that resulted in the compromise of over 130 Twitter accounts, including those belonging to politicians, celebrities and companies.
Joseph O’Connor, 22, is charged by a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
According to court documents, in addition to the July 15, 2020, hack of Twitter, O’Connor is charged with computer intrusions related to takeovers of TikTok and Snapchat user accounts. O’Connor is also charged with cyberstalking a juvenile victim.
O’Connor is charged with three counts of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer; two counts of intentionally accessing a computer without authorization and obtaining information from a protected computer; one count of conspiracy to intentionally access a computer without authorization and, with the intent to extort from a person a thing of value, transmitting a communication containing a threat; one count of making extortive communications; one count of making threatening communications; and two counts of cyberstalking. If O’Connor is convicted, a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds for the Northern District of California, and Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair of the FBI San Francisco Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI San Francisco Division is investigating the case, with assistance from the IRS-Criminal Investigation Cyber Unit; the U.S. Secret Service, San Francisco and Headquarters; and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and its REACT task force.
Assistant Deputy Chief Adrienne Rose of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Frentzen and Andrew Dawson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California are prosecuting the case.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs is providing significant assistance. The U.K.’s National Crime Agency and the Spanish National Police provided assistance in the investigation and arrest.
Tech-savvy people may think it’s all fun and games to take over someone’s social media account but this incident proves there are real consequences and there’s really no place to hide.