26 Jun, 2023 @ 19:30
1 min read

British hacker arrested in Spain for taking control of Obama’s Twitter account given five years by a New York court

Spanish FA say cyber hackers stole private conversations to pass onto media outlets
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A BRITISH hacker who was arrested in Spain’s Estepona in July 2021 after he managed to take control of high-profile Twitter accounts, including that of Barack Obama, has been sentenced to five years in jail by a court in New York. 

Joseph James O’Connor, who is 24 and is known as PlugwalkJoe, managed to impersonate a series of celebrities, such as Elon Musk, Kanye west and Bill Gates, with the aim of fraudulently obtaining bitcoin. 

He also posed as famous people on other social networks, such as TikTok and Snapchat. 

The National Police arrested O’Connor in July 2021, and he was extradited by Spain in April of this year. In May, he pleaded guilty to a series of cybercrimes, and on Friday his sentence was made public by a court in New York. 

As well as his prison term, O’Connor will spend three years under supervised release and has been ordered to pay $794,000, an amount that he stole in virtual currency from a crypto company based in New York. 

In total, O’Connor and his hacking group hijacked more than 130 Twitter accounts as part of their bitcoin scam.

His arrest in Estepona was carried out by Spain’s Central Cibercrimes Unit in collaboration with the FBI. The investigation began in April 2020, when the National Police was advised by the US authorities that he could be on Spanish territory. This led investigators to the Costa del Sol, where he was indeed located. 

The attacks, which unfolded over several hours in July 2020, were so serious that Twitter took the never-before-seen step of suspending verified accounts from posting messages.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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