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Man pleads guilty to hacking Elon Musk’s and Joe Biden’s Twitter accounts in bitcoin scam

Elon Musk's Twitter profile is displayed on a phone; and a white man with long hair wearing a surgical mask is handcuffed and led away by policeElon Musk’s Twitter account, and Joseph James O’Connor arrested in Spain in 2021.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images; REUTERS/Jon Nazca

  • Several high-profile Twitter accounts were hacked as part of a bitcoin giveaway scam in 2020.
  • Joseph James O’Connor pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme on Tuesday, per the DOJ.
  • He was extradited to the US last month after being arrested in Spain two years ago.

A 23-year-old pleaded guilty over his role in 2020’s huge Twitter hacking scheme at a New York court on Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced.

Joseph James O’Connor, a British citizen, was first arrested in Spain two years ago before being extradited to the US last month.

He was part of a group that hijacked several high-profile Twitter users including Joe Biden, Kim Kardashian, and Elon Musk. At the time, Twitter said that 130 accounts were targeted.

The hackers tweeted from those accounts falsely claiming that they would double all bitcoin sent to them in the next 30 minutes. Binance – the world’s largest crypto exchange – also saw its account compromised.

twitter bitcoin scamThe hackers’ tweet from Joe Biden’s account.


Twitter briefly stopped all verified accounts from tweeting as the company scrambled to oust the hackers.

“We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools,” it said.

The DOJ said O’Connor and his co-conspirators were also involved in several other schemes using SIM swaps, where hackers can remotely gain control of a victim’s phone.

That included blackmailing one unnamed public figure with private Snapchat images; stealing $794,000 worth of crypto from a Manhattan-based company; and posting identifiable self-promotion videos on a high-profile TikTok account.

O’Connor also cyberstalked and threatened a minor, including the use of swatting attacks. Swatting refers to the act of calling the police on an innocent person and falsely claiming criminal activity. 

“O’Connor’s criminal activities were flagrant and malicious, and his conduct impacted multiple people’s lives. He harassed, threatened, and extorted his victims, causing substantial emotional harm,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

O’Connor pleaded guilty to multiple counts of stalking, computer intrusion, extortion, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 23 and faces a maximum sentence of more than 70 years in prison. 

Read the original article on Business Insider