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Three charged with hacking Twitter accounts of Obama, Musk among others

(Adds FBI and DOJ material)

July 31 (Reuters) – Two teenagers and a 22-year-old were charged with hacking the Twitter Inc accounts of famous people including former President Barack Obama, billionaire Bill Gates and Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, the Department of Justice said on Friday.

Mason Sheppard, a 19-year-old British man who went by the alias Chaewon, was charged with carrying out the hack, as well as related wire fraud and money laundering crimes, according to a Justice Department statement.

Orlando-based Nima Fazeli, 22, nicknamed Rolex, was charged with aiding and abetting those crimes. The Justice Department did not name the third defendant, but the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office in Tampa said it had arrested 17-year-old Graham Clark. In a statement, Twitter said it appreciated the “swift actions of law enforcement.”

The FBI said that two of the accused had been taken into custody, without identifying them.

Clark on July 15 posted messages under the profiles that solicited investments in bitcoin, a digital currency, said the Florida State Attorney’s Office. A publicly available ledger of bitcoin transactions showed he was able to obtain more than $100,000 that way. Reuters was unable to immediately locate his lawyer. The Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office said it had no information in its system about who was representing him. Phone calls and an email to Clark’s mother were not immediately returned. Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren told journalists that his office had filed 30 felony charges against Clark , who was in state custody.

Warren said the adolescent was being prosecuted under state rather than federal law because Florida law enabled the state to charge him as an adult.

“This was a massive fraud orchestrated right here in our own backyard, and we won’t stand for that,” he said. (Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru, Raphael Satter in Washington, D.C., and Katie Paul in San Francisco; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Cynthia Osterman)


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