A Florida teen described as the mastermind of an elaborate Twitter hack that targeted the accounts of Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and other high-profile users pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance Tuesday.
Graham Clark, 17, scammed more than $100,000 in Bitcoin from hundreds of people who follow the hacked accounts by falsely promising to double their donations, authorities said.
“I am giving back to the community,” read a tweet posted on Biden’s account last month. “All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000 I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes.”
Clark, who is being prosecuted as an adult, faces multiple state and federal charges, including organized fraud, fraudulent use of personal information and accessing a computer or electronic device without authorization.
He announced his plea during a brief hearing held via video conferencing Tuesday in Tampa.
The accused hacker is scheduled to return to court Wednesday for a bond hearing. He’s being held on $725,000 bond at the Hillsborough County Jail.
Two people accused of helping him with the scheme have also been charged. They were identified as British national Mason Sheppard, 19, and Florida resident Nima “Rolex” Fazeli, 22.
The trio is accused of hacking about 130 Twitter accounts on July 15, resulting in 400 Bitcoin transfers. Their brazen scam has been described as the biggest security and privacy breach in Twitter’s history.
Other prominent users who had their accounts hacked include Apple, reality star Kim Kardashian West and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
“I’m feeling generous because of COVID-19,” read a tweet on Musk’s account that day. “I’ll double any (bitcoin) payment sent to my (bitcoin) address for the next hour. Good luck, and stay safe out there!”