Following the infamous hack that unfolded before millions of Twitter users, one of the individuals responsible for the breach has received a federal prison sentence three years later.
Joseph James O’Connor, aged 24, was sentenced on Friday in a New York federal court to a five-year prison term. This comes after his guilty plea in May to four charges, including computer hacking, wire fraud, and cyberstalking. Additionally, O’Connor has consented to forfeit a minimum of $794,000 to compensate the victims impacted by his criminal actions.
Earlier this year, O’Connor, a citizen of the United Kingdom, was extradited from Spain based on the request of U.S. prosecutors. He has been in custody ever since.
During the hearing, Judge Jed S. Rakoff mentioned that O’Connor is expected to serve approximately half of his sentence, taking into account the more than two years he has spent in pre-trial custody.
According to Reuters, O’Connor faced a maximum possible sentence of 77 years in prison. The prosecutors from the Justice Department recommended a minimum prison term of seven years for O’Connor.
During the court proceedings, O’Connor candidly admitted that his actions were “stupid and pointless.” He expressed remorse to his victims and appealed to the judge for leniency.
According to the government’s case, O’Connor, who went by the online alias PlugWalkJoe, was a member of a collective that infiltrated numerous high-profile Twitter accounts in July 2020. Among the targeted accounts were those belonging to Apple, Binance, Bill Gates, Joe Biden, and Elon Musk. Their objective was to disseminate cryptocurrency scams, promising quick wealth.
O’Connor employed phone-based social engineering techniques to deceive Twitter employees, thereby acquiring unauthorized access to the platform’s network.
Another individual implicated in the Twitter breach, Graham Ivan Clark, also known as Kirk, exploited this network access to manipulate an internal admin tool, allowing him to hijack and assume control of various Twitter user accounts.