Graham Ivan Clark, the Florida teen who was identified as the mastermind of a scheme that gained control of Twitter accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities, and technology moguls pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to multiple counts of fraud.
Clark is charged with 17 counts of communications fraud, 11 counts of fraudulent use of personal information, and one count each of organized fraud of more than $5,000 and accessing computers or electronic devices without authority.
According to court records, Graham Clark informed Circuit Court Judge Christopher Nash that he was not guilty of the 30 felony counts of fraud prosecutors have leveled against him.
The hearing happened via Zoom as Clark remained in the Hillsborough County Jail. However, the Judge has asked Clark to appear before Court on Wednesday. The issue to be addressed is Clark’s request to change his $750,000 bond, and conditions of release.
His 22-year-old accomplice, Nima Fazeli, was charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a shielded computer.
According to The Associated Press, Fazeli’s father states that he is 100% sure his son is innocent. “He is a very good person, very honest, very smart, and loyal,” Mohamad Fazeli said. “We are as shocked as everybody else. I am sure this is a mix-up.”
In addition, 19-year-old, Mason Sheppard, who went by the name Chaewon, was arrested in the UK and charged with conspiracy to perpetrate wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and intentional access to a shielded computer.
Previously Twitter said its employees were duped into sharing account credentials.
However, Twitter later released a statement declaring, the hackers used a phone spear-phishing attack to target Twitter employees. After stealing employee credentials and getting into Twitter’s systems, the hackers were able to target other employees who had access to account support tools, the company said.
“This attack relied on a significant and concerted attempt to mislead certain employees and exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access to our internal systems,” the company tweeted.
Twitter confirmed that approximately 130 accounts were breached, out of which, the attackers acquired control for a small subset of 45 accounts.
The unprecedented hacks of accounts included prominent figures like former US President Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Kanye West, Michael Bloomberg, and Apple’s official handle. The origin of the scam is traced back to the post by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk. From there, the chaos spiraled out for a brief time.
The compromised accounts were used to promote Bitcoins, which earned the attackers $120,000. These scam tweets claimed to double the bitcoins amount sent to a certain wallet address, only for a limited time.
To contain the intensity of the attack, Twitter, locked the compromised accounts, and restored the access only after they were secured. Even accounts that attempted to change their password were locked out.
The major concern with the level of access the attackers enjoyed was that they could have triggered a sell-off in the financial markets, issued fake policy pronouncements, or disrupted entire presidential campaigns.