U.S. Authorities Extradite UK Citizen Behind 2020 Twitter Hack, SIM Swap Crypto Theft
Joseph O’Connor, known by his handle PlugWalkJoe, was arrested in Spain in 2021.
Joseph O’Connor, the U.K. national behind a 2020 Twitter hack, has been extradited to the United States, where he has pled guilty to multiple cybercrime offenses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York announced Tuesday
“O’Connor used his sophisticated technological abilities for malicious purposes — conducting a complex SIM swap attack to steal large amounts of cryptocurrency, hacking Twitter, conducting computer intrusions to take over social media accounts, and even cyberstalking two victims, including a minor victim,” the SDNY said in a statement.
During the 2020 Twitter hack, multiple high-profile Twitter accounts were taken over – including CoinDesk’s – and used to promote a bitcoin giveaway scam. Despite multi-factor authentication being enabled on some of the accounts, the attackers managed to hide scam warning responses, including from Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, and amassed approximately 11.3 BTC ($103,960) from the fraudulent activity.
Florida resident Graham Ivan Clark, an associate of O’Connor’s who also participated in the attack, was arrested in March 2021 and tried as a young offender, as he was 17 at the time of the hack.
O’Connor, 23, was also charged by the SDNY and pled guilty for his role in SIM-swapping attacks targeting high-profile executives in the cryptocurrency industry, resulting in the theft of $794,000 in digital assets.
While the SDNY declined to name the company, only stating that it “provided wallet infrastructure and related software to cryptocurrency”, there have been numerous cases of targeted crypto companies using this same technique, including BlockFi.
O’Connor is due back in court on June 23 for sentencing.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.
Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.