17-year-old accused of masterminding Twitter Bitcoin scam

A 17-year-old in Tampa, Florida, is being accused of taking over Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and numerous other celebrities’ Twitter accounts to scam people into sending him Bitcoin. 

The teen, whose name and photo CNBC is not publishing because he is a minor, was arrested and charged, the Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren’s office announced on Friday. 

“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they’re not the primary victims here,” Warren said in a statement. “This ‘Bit-Con’ was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida. This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that.”

Warren’s office has filed 30 felony charges against the 17-year-old. The charges include organized fraud, communications fraud, fraudulent use of personal information and access of computer or electronic device without authority. The teen’s scam reaped more than $100,000 worth of Bitcoin on July 15, according to Warren’s office. 

Twitter provided its most recent update into the attack on Thursday evening.

“The social engineering that occurred on July 15, 2020, targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack,’ Twitter said in a blog post. “A successful attack required the attackers to obtain access to both our internal network as well as  specific employee credentials that granted them access to our internal support tools. Not all of the employees that were initially targeted had permissions to use account management tools, but the attackers used their credentials to access our internal systems and gain information about our processes. 

Twitter acknowledged the charges and arrest on Friday.

“We appreciate the swift actions of law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case progresses,” Twitter said in a tweet. “For our part, we are focused on being transparent and providing updates regularly.”


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