A U.K. citizen has been sentenced by а New York court to five years in prison for his role in a Twitter hack including the hijacking of accounts of U.S. political and business figures. The man is also responsible for the theft of large amounts of cryptocurrency in a SIM swap attack.
Hacker Goes to Jail for Breaching Twitter Accounts of U.S. Officials and Business Leaders
A British national got a five-year prison sentence for his involvement in a Twitter hack that targeted the accounts of leading U.S. politicians and businessmen. The hijacking is one of several crimes that he was charged with, including stealing cryptocurrency and cyberstalking victims.
The sentencing comes after Joseph James O’Connor pleaded guilty in New York in May to participating in a number of online schemes including a Twitter hack that led to the impersonation of former U.S. President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and billionaire investor Warren Buffett, among others, to advertise a Bitcoin scheme, Bloomberg reported.
The guilty plea followed the extradition of the 24-year-old Brit from Spain in late April. During the sentencing hearing in Manhattan on Friday, O’Connor, who was known online as “PlugwalkJoe,” stated he was ashamed of his deeds.
“I’m sorry to all the victims of my crimes. I’m here because I did stupid and shameful things,” he told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff. “I will never break the law again,” O’Connor promised and insisted in the courtroom:
I want to live a life with meaning, not the idiotic, empty, hermit life I was living.
Rakoff said he considered O’Connor’s relatively young age and autism in reaching the five-year sentence while prosecutors had sought seven years. The judge also noted O’Connor will be credited with the 23 months he already served before the sentencing.
The accused also pleaded guilty to stealing over $794,000 from a Manhattan-based crypto company by SIM-swapping some of its executives and agreed to forfeit that amount.
“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,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams was quoted as saying at the time of the guilty plea.
O’Connor also admitted to “swatting” a 16-year-old girl in the summer of 2020 when he was calling the police and claiming she was planning to shoot people and later threatening members of her family. The report detailed he sent similar messages to a high school, restaurant, and sheriff’s department.
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