Brit accused of hacking Twitter accounts of Obama and other celebrities arrested in southern Spain

Author thumbnail
22 Jul, 2021 Updated Thu 22 Jul 2021 12:34 CEST
Brit accused of hacking Twitter accounts of Obama and other celebrities arrested in southern Spain
An illustration shows US President Barack Obama's Twitter page on a laptop in Washington, DC on May 18, 2015. "Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account."With that inaugural Tweet sent from a smart phone the Oval Office before jumping on Marine One Monday, the President of the United States Barack Obama -- or @POTUS - cast off security and bureaucratic chains in place since he was elected. The account -- which already had nearly 150,000 followers in the first half hour -- will instantly become one of the world's top hacking targets, but it will also allow Obama to communicate directly for the first time. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

A British national charged in last year's hack of Twitter accounts of celebrities and politicians has been arrested in the Malaga town of Estepona, US officials have announced.


Dozens of Twitter accounts of politicians, business leaders and celebrities were hacked last year in what officials said was cryptocurrency scheme.

The Justice Department said Spanish National Police arrested 22-year-old Joseph O'Connor on a warrant issued by a US federal court stemming from the high-profile hack linked to a crytpocurrency scheme.

O'Connor faces multiple charges in connection with the July 2020 hack of over 130 Twitter accounts, including those of Apple, Uber, Kanye West, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Elon Musk.

The hackers hijacked the celebrity accounts and asked followers of them to send bitcoin to an account, promising to double their money.

The Justice Department said O'Connor faces charges related to unauthorised computer access, extortion and cyberstalking.

Earlier this year the Florida teenager accused of masterminding the attack was sentenced to three years in juvenile prison in a plea agreement.


Graham Ivan Clark, 18, described as the mastermind of the July 2020 "Bit-Con" worldwide hack, was sentenced to the maximum allowed under Florida's Youthful Offender Act.

Clark was 17 when he was charged, and his case was transferred to a Florida state court because of his juvenile status.

According to authorities, Clark used his access to Twitter's internal systems to take over the accounts of several companies and celebrities and used a combination of "technical breaches and social engineering," netting some $100,000.

A tweet that appeared on Tesla founder Musk's Twitter feed said: "Happy Wednesday! I am giving back Bitcoin to all of my followers. I am doubling all payments sent to the Bitcoin address below. You send 0.1 BTC, I send 0.2 BTC back!"

It added that the offer was "only going on for 30 minutes."

Twitter said at the time that the July 15 incident stemmed from a "spear phishing" attack which deceived employees about the origin of the messages.

The hack affected at least 130 accounts, including that of Biden while he was a candidate for president.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also