TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida teenager is in jail, accused of being the “mastermind” behind a hack on the social media website Twitter that caused limited access to the site and high-profile accounts, according to jail records and the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office.
**Watch a past report on this story in the video, above**
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren filed 30 felony charges against the teen this week for “scamming people across America” in connection with the Twitter hack that happened on July 15. The charges include one count of organized fraud, 17 counts of communications fraud, one count of fraudulent use of personal information with over $100,000 or 30 or more victims, 10 counts of fraudulent use of personal information and one count of access to computer or electronic device without authority.
Hillsborough County Jail records show the teen was booked into jail shortly after 6:30 a.m. Friday.
Warren’s office says 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 Tampa teen. According to the state attorney, the scheme reaped more than $100,000 in Bitcoin in just one day.
“As a cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is difficult to track and recover if stolen in a scam,” the state attorney’s office says.
Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk were just some of the names who were impacted by the hack. Twitter officials recently said that it had limited access to its internal tools after the high-profile hack.
“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.”
According to the state attorney’s office, the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice found the suspect behind the attack in Hillsborough County after a “complex, nationwide investigation.”
“I want to congratulate our federal law enforcement partners – the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the FBI, the IRS, and the Secret Service – as well as the Florida Department of Law enforcement. They worked quickly to investigate and identify the perpetrator of a sophisticated and extensive fraud,” State Attorney Warren said in his statement.
Warren added that the teen will be prosecuted in Hillsborough County because “this defendant lives here in Tampa” and “he committed the crime here.”
The day after the hack, White House officials were concerned about President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which he uses daily to push out news and other information. They assured the public that his account has extra protections.
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer also voiced his concern that similar hacks could target Florida’s economy and elections. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was called on to help investigate the breach.
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