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High-profile Twitter scam draws national attention

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2020 | White Collar Crimes |

Bitcoin scams occur with alarming frequency. Such crimes often involve attempts to get people to send someone Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies under false pretenses. Some scams entail outright blackmail and may target South Carolina residents. Recently, accusations suggest a 17-year-old Florida resident is behind a high-profile Bitcoin scam.

The scam gained international attention since it involved unauthorized access to the Twitter accounts of multiple well-known celebrities and political figures. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Joe Biden were among the Twitter accounts accessed. Former President Barack Obama saw his account compromised, and a false message appeared on his Twitter account, soliciting $1,000 to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reportedly, the incident occurred due to a phone “spear-phishing” attack. Such attacks usually involve social engineering with specific targets in mind. Twitter reports that the phone attack procured employee credentials. The credentials allowed the alleged attackers to gain entry to Twitter’s internal systems and procure information about processes.

Twitter may soon take steps to implement better phone security protocols. Exact details about how the spear-phishing scheme worked have yet to emerge. Twitter’s management did publicly express appreciation for law enforcement and their swift response.

The money procured from the scam was not an insignificant amount. Reportedly it netted around $100,000. Those accused of the scheme now find themselves facing serious charges. The 17-year-old “mastermind” faces 30 felony charges. Several charges are fraud-related, including communications fraud and fraudulent use of personal information. Two others face charges in connection with the scam.

Fraud scams often fall under the description of “white-collar crimes.” Charges could be on the state or federal level. Those accused of such crimes may need to speak with an attorney to receive an explanation of the charges and discuss defense strategies.