U.S. authorities have charged a Florida teenager and two others with roles in this month's massive hack of high-profile Twitter accounts, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden - an attack that also led to an hourslong blockage that prevented President Donald Trump and other prominent users from posting.
The state attorney in Tampa Bay's Hillsborough County, Fla., announced Friday that Graham Ivan Clark, 17, was behind the July 15 Twitter breach that sent fraudulent tweets from accounts belonging to, among others, former President Barack Obama, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and rapper Kanye West. The tweets asked people to send Bitcoin contributions to a mysterious address, with promises of doubling them.
The Justice Department separately announced that Mason Sheppard, 19, of the United Kingdom and Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, Fla., have also been charged in in the Northern District of California.
The breach sparked a massive outcry from Capitol Hill, with lawmakers demanding the social media giant quickly come clean about the circumstances around the hacking. Several Senate panels, including Intelligence, Commerce and Homeland Security, have been weighing if they should launch their own investigations into the incident.
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren's office announced Friday that it filed 30 felony charges against Clark this week. Prosecutors said the scheme to defraud "stole the identities of prominent people" and "posted messages in their names directing victims to send Bitcoin" to accounts that were associated with the teen.
The scheme reaped more than $100,000 in Bitcoin in just one day.
"These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they're not the primary victims here. This 'Bit-Con' was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida," Warren said in a statement. "This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that."
Twitter issued a statement shortly after the arrest, thanking law enforcement.
"We appreciate the swift actions of law enforcement in this investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case progresses," the company said. "For our part, we are focused on being transparent and providing updates regularly."