A U.K. hacker who caused a stir in 2020 and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crypto is pleading guilty to two sets of charges following his extradition from Spain on April 26th.
In a statement published on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York says Joseph James O’Connor, also known as PlugwalkJoe, hacked the Twitter accounts of celebrities and politicians in 2020 and stole nearly $800,000 worth of crypto from a digital asset exchange.
O’Connor is facing up to 77 years of jail time for his alleged involvement in several cybercrime offenses, including conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, committing computer intrusions and cyberstalking.
The hacker is being charged for his alleged role in a SIM swap attack that stole $794,000 in crypto assets from a Manhattan-based cryptocurrency company. The 23-year-old and his conspirators then laundered the proceeds, part of which were eventually deposited into a crypto exchange account controlled by the accused.
“As part of the scheme, O’Connor and his co-conspirators successfully perpetrated SIM swap attacks targeting at least three Company-1 executives. Following a successful SIM swap attack targeting one of the executives on or about April 30, 2019, O’Connor and his co-conspirators successfully gained unauthorized access to multiple Company-1 accounts and computer systems.”
O’Connor is also implicated in the high-profile Twitter hack that took over the accounts of Joe Biden, Elon Musk and other known personalities to promote a Bitcoin (BTC) giveaway scam. The perpetrators reportedly profited 11.3 BTC, currently worth around $312,942, from the scheme.
Northern District of California U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey says O’Connor left “an impressive trail of destruction” from his criminal offenses.
“This case serves as a warning that the reach of the law is long, and criminals anywhere who use computers to commit crimes may end up facing the consequences of their actions in places they did not anticipate.”
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