PlugwalkJoe pleads guilty to 2020 Twitter hack and other cybercrimes

O’Connor is scheduled to be sentenced on February 16, 2024. He could face up to 70 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Man in hood cybercrime

Joseph James O’Connor, also known as PlugwalkJoe online, has pleaded guilty to participating in various cybercrime activities, including the massive Twitter hack in July 2020 that compromised hundreds of high-profile accounts.

O’Connor, who is originally from Liverpool, was extradited from Spain to the US in April to face multiple charges of computer hacking, extortion and cyberstalking. He faces up to 10 years in prison for each count, as shared by Engadget.

The 2020 Twitter hack was one of the most notorious cyberattacks in recent history. The hackers gained unauthorized access to Twitter accounts belonging to celebrities, politicians and business leaders, such as Bill Gates, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West, Elon Musk, and more. They then used those accounts to promote cryptocurrency scams that netted them over $120,000 USD (roughly $150,000 CAD at the time) in Bitcoin.

According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), O’Connor communicated with his co-conspirators in the Twitter hack about buying and selling access to hacked accounts. He also admitted to purchasing access to at least one account for $10,000 USD (roughly $13,000 CAD).

But that was not the only cybercrime O’Connor was involved in. He also confessed to hacking a TikTok account with millions of followers and a Snapchat account using a technique called SIM swapping. SIM swapping involves transferring a victim’s phone number to a device controlled by the hacker, allowing them to bypass security measures such as two-factor authentication.

“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, including a minor victim,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “O’Connor’s guilty plea today is a testament to the importance of law enforcement cooperation, and I thank our law enforcement partners for helping to bring to justice those who victimize others through cyber-attacks.”

O’Connor is scheduled to be sentenced on February 16, 2024. He could face up to 70 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Source: US Department of Justice (DOJ) Via: Engadget