A photo illustration of a verified Twitter account.
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- British man Joseph James O’Connor pleaded guilty to hacking celebrity Twitter accounts.
- He and others in his hacking group stole $794 000 in cryptocurrency.
- 130 accounts were hijacked, including those of Apple, Uber, Kanye West and Barack Obama.
A British man pleaded guilty on Tuesday for his role in schemes to hack the Twitter accounts of celebrities like Barack Obama and Elon Musk and steal $794 000 in cryptocurrency.
Joseph James O’Connor, 23, entered his guilty plea in a New York court after being extradited from Spain on 26 April.
He was arrested nearly two years ago in Spain for the July 2020 hack of over 130 Twitter accounts, including those of Apple, Uber, Kanye West, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Obama and Musk.
He and others in his hacking group hijacked the accounts and asked the owners’ followers to send them Bitcoin, promising to double their money.
In 2019 the group also used a technique known as sim card swaps to break their way into social media accounts of two media stars, not named in court filings but named in press reports as TikTok star Addison Rae and actor Bella Thorne.
The group threatened to release their private images and other information.
In addition, they used the same technique to steal $794 000 of virtual currency from a New York cryptocurrency company.
O’Connor, who went by the online name of PlugwalkJoe, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of computer intrusion, extortion, stalking, wire fraud and money laundering.
The most serious of the charges brings up to 20 years in prison.
In July 2021, Florida teenager Graham Ivan Clark, the alleged mastermind of the hacking group, was sentenced to three years in juvenile prison under a plea agreement.
Clark, only 17 when he was charged, was sentenced to the maximum allowed under Florida’s Youthful Offender Act.