A 22-year-old British man wanted in the U.S. in connection with last year’s hack of Twitter accounts of celebrities and politicians has been jailed in Spain while he fights extradition.
Joseph O’Connor, a well-known hacker who goes by the name ‘PlugWalkJoe’ online, appeared before a Spanish National Court judge on Thursday and refused to be transferred to the U.S. voluntarily, a court spokesman said.
He was arrested by Spanish police a day earlier on a warrant issued by a U.S. federal court stemming from the high profile hack linked to a cryptocurrency scheme.
O’Connor, who is said to be from Liverpool, 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.
Joseph O’Connor, a well-known hacker who goes by the name ‘PlugWalkJoe’ online, appeared before a Spanish National Court judge on Thursday and refused to be transferred to the U.S. voluntarily, a court spokesman said. Pictured: O’Connor is led by Spanish police officers as he leaves a Spanish court on July 22
O’Connor (pictured leaving court) was arrested by Spanish police a day earlier on a warrant issued by a U.S. federal court stemming from the high profile hack linked to a cryptocurrency scheme
The hackers hijacked the celebrity accounts and asked their followers of them to send bitcoin to an account, promising to double their money.
They managed to swindle more than $180,000 out of unsuspecting victims in the process.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court in the Northern District of California also charges O’Connor for allegedly taking over TikTok and Snapchat accounts, as well as cyberstalking a juvenile.
The Justice Department said O’Connor faces charges related to unauthorized computer access, extortion and cyberstalking.
O’Connor has previously denied being behind the Twitter hack and told the New York Times: ‘I don’t care – they can come arrest me.
‘I would laugh at them. I haven’t done anything.’
The Madrid-based National Court handles extradition requests in Spain. A court spokesperson said Judge Santiago Pedraz considered the charges against O’Connor grave enough to warrant keeping him in custody and preventing him from trying to flee during the extradition process.
The spokesperson was not authorized to be named in media reports.
The attack reached over 130 Twitter accounts, including those of Apple, Uber, Kanye West, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Elon Musk
The scam saw hackers ask followers of them to send bitcoin to an account, promising to double their money
Extradition requests can take months to resolve and involve both a judicial review and the Spanish Cabinet’s approval.
The FBI informed Spanish authorities about O’Connor´s alleged involvement in last year’s hack, the National Police said in a press release.
It said Spanish and U.S. agents took part in his arrest and search of the suspect’s residence, confiscating two computers and a mobile phone.
Spain’s National Police said Thursday that O’Connor was permanently residing in Marbella, another southern coastal city popular with foreign residents and that he had been on their radar at least since April 2020 as part of an alleged criminal group committing fraud online.
Joseph O’Connor, 22, has been arrested in Spain over last year’s hack of Twitter accounts of celebrities and politicians
Graham Ivan Clark, 18, described as the mastermind of the hack, was sentenced to three years in juvenile prison earlier this year
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.