Sussex teenager charged over major Twitter hack of Kim Kardashian and Elon Musk

A 19-year-old man from Sussex is among three people charged over a major Twitter hack, according to the US Department of Justice.

The National Crime Agency and the police raided a house in Bognor on Friday
The National Crime Agency and the police raided a house in Bognor on Friday

Authorities in the Northern District of California said Mason Sheppard, 19, also known as ‘Chaewon’, from Bognor, was charged with ‘conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer’.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) also confirmed it had searched a property in Bognor on Friday alongside officers fighting organised crime in the South East.

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Nima Fazeli, also known as Rolex, 22, of Orlando, Florida, was also charged alongside a teenager who cannot be named.

Twitter accounts belonging to a number of high-profile US figures – including Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian West, as well as others – were hacked in an apparent Bitcoin scam on July 15.

U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson, for the Northern District of California, said: “There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence.

“Today’s charging announcement demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived. Criminal conduct over the Internet may feel stealthy to the people who perpetrate it, but there is nothing stealthy about it. In particular, I want to say to would-be offenders, break the law, and we will find you.”

According to the US Department of Justice, the Twitter attack allegedly consisted of a combination of technical breaches and social engineering. The result of the Twitter hack was the compromise of approximately 130 Twitter accounts pertaining to politicians, celebrities, and musicians.

A spokesman for the Justice Department said: “The hackers are alleged to have created a scam bitcoin account, to have hacked into Twitter VIP accounts, to have sent solicitations from the Twitter VIP accounts with a false promise to double any bitcoin deposits made to the scam account, and then to have stolen the bitcoin that victims deposited into the scam account. As alleged in the complaints, the scam bitcoin account received more than 400 transfers worth more than $100,000.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt, of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said: “The hackers allegedly compromised over 100 social media accounts and scammed both the account users and others who sent money based on their fraudulent solicitations.

“The rapid investigation of this conduct is a testament to the expertise of our investigators, our commitment to responding quickly to cyber attacks, and the close relationships we have built with law enforcement partners throughout the world.”

The Justice Department said Nima Fazeli is charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer