Florida teen gets prison time for massive Twitter hack

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The Florida teenager who hacked several celebrities’ Twitter accounts last summer will spend three years behind bars, authorities said.

Graham Ivan Clark, 18, pleaded guilty to 30 counts of communications fraud and other state crimes for breaking into the social media platform to carry out a cryptocurrency scam, Florida prosecutors said.

Clark entered the plea Tuesday during a virtual court hearing from Florida’s Hillsborough County jail, where he’s been held since his arrest last summer at age 17, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Prosecutors say Clark raked in more than $117,000 in bitcoin after taking over the Twitter accounts of several high-profile figures, including Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Kanye West and Elon Musk. He posted tweets that directed victims of the scheme to send the cryptocurrency to a digital account.

“He took over the accounts of famous people, but the money he stole came from regular, hard-working people,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement. “Graham Clark needs to be held accountable for that crime, and other potential scammers out there need to see the consequences.”

Former President Barack Obama was among those hacked by Graham Ivan Clark.
Former President Barack Obama was among those hacked by Graham Ivan Clark.

Clark’s defense attorney, David Weisbrod, said the teen hacker had turned over all the bitcoin he bilked, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Authorities expect to return the money to its rightful owners.

Under his plea deal, Clark will spend three years in a juvenile detention facility — including the seven and a half months he’s already been locked up — and another three years on probation, according to Warren’s office.

That’s the maximum sentence he’s allowed as a youthful offender, a status that will also provide him education and transition services to get his life back on track once he’s out of prison, officials said.

But Clark will face another 10 years of prison time in an adult lockup if he violates his probation, prosecutors said.

Elon Musk's account was also part of the massive Twitter hack.
Elon Musk’s account was also part of the massive Twitter hack.

The unprecedented breach that Clark carried out last July shocked Twitter users and forced the platform to block verified users from posting while it investigated what happened.

Two other men — Mason Sheppard of the UK and Nima Fazeli of Florida — have been separately charged in federal court for their roles in the scheme, which Twitter called a “coordinated social engineering attack” that targeted company employees with access to internal tools.

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