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Authorities Accuse 17-Year-Old of Orchestrating July’s Massive Bitcoin Twitter Hack, Teen Has More Than $3M in Bitcoin

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  • Three people were charged on Friday in connection to a massive Twitter bitcoin hack in July that compromised dozens of high profile accounts, including those of Kim Kardashian-West, Kanye West, and former President Barack Obama.
  • Among those charged was 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark who reportedly stole nearly $180,000 and is being described as the mastermind behind the attack.
  • On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Clark has over $3 million in bitcoin, and prosecutors believe that money was also obtained illegally. 
  • This is not Clark’s first run in with authorities. Last year, they seized cash and $700,000 bitcoin in a criminal investigation, though he was never charged.

17-Year-Old “Mastermind” Arrested

In news that would otherwise appear to come straight from a best-selling young adult heist novel, a 17-year-old Florida teen has been charged as the “mastermind” behind Twitter’s largest hack ever. Reportedly, he’s also worth $3 million in bitcoin. 

That hack, which happened on July 15, successfully infiltrated dozens of high-profile accounts including: Kim Kardashian-West, Kanye, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, former President Barack Obama, and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. It also attacked Twitter accounts for companies like Apple and Uber.

All of those accounts then tweeted out some variation of the same message: “I am giving back to my community due to Covid-19! All Bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled. If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000! Only doing this for the next 30 minutes! Enjoy.” 

On Friday, state authorities arrested 17-year-old Graham Ivan Clark in Tampa, Fl. Though he reportedly lives alone and is a recent high school graduate, Clark is still a minor, which is why he was not arrested by federal officials. He will be tried as an adult.

Clark faces 30 different felonies, including 17 counts of communications fraud and one count of fraudulent use of personal information (over $100,000 or 30 or more victims).

On July 16, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it was opening an investigation into the hack. The same day that Clark was arrested and charged, two others were charged by federal agents. 

One of those men, 22-year-old Nima Fazeli of Orlando, Fl., has been arrested by federal agents. The other, 19-year-old Mason John Sheppard of the United Kingdom, still hasn’t been arrested but the FBI is expecting him to be taken into custody soon. 

How Clark Hacked Twitter 

Despite many details around Clark being restricted because he is a minor, a criminal affidavit from Florida has still revealed some of the specifics behind how that attack happened.

According to that affidavit, Clark gained access to a portion of Twitter’s network on May 3. Reportedly, this happened after Clark convinced a Twitter employee that he was also an employee in the technology department. He then told the real employee that he needed their  credentials to access the customer service portal.

From there, the affidavit jumps to July 15 and it’s not clear what happened between then, but according to Zdnet, “it appears Clark wasn’t immediately able to pivot from his initial entry point to the Twitter admin tool that he later used to take over accounts.”

In fact, according to The New York Times, he only got access to those credentials after he found a way into Twitter’s internal Slack workspaces and saw them posted there. 

Still, that alone was not enough for him to make his way past Twitter’s two-factor authentication. Likely, he maneuvered around that through what Twitter called a “phone spear phishing attack.”

“The attack on July 15, 2020, targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack,” Twitter Support said on Thursday. “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 affidavit accuses Discord user Kirk#5270, believed to be Clark, of initiating the attacks.

“I work for Twitter,” Kirk said in a chatroom on July 15. “I can claim any @. Let me know. Don’t tell anyone.”

Soon after, Sheppard and Fazeli joined under separate usernames of their own, and the three reportedly began selling access to Twitter accounts. 

However, this attack is different from the one that targeted personalities like Kim K. Instead, this attack focused on stealing short handles like @drug, @xx, @vampire.

By the end of it, Kirk was accused of netting around $33,000 in bitcoin. Sheppard is accused of acquiring around $7,000 in bitcoin. Fazeli is accused of having worked in cooperation with the two in exchange for a Twitter handle he wanted. 

From here, the criminal complaints against Sheppard and Fazeli end. Of course, that wasn’t the end of the attack. Later that same day, the main hack against numerous high profiles figures began. 

By the end of that, Clark had reportedly stolen around $177,000 from both attacks.

How the 17-Year-Old “Mastermind” Got Caught

If the first part of their plan went off without a hitch, the latter half did not. The alleged criminals reportedly failed to hide their real identities and scrambled to hide their stolen money once the hack went public. Such mistakes led to a quick discovery of their identities by law enforcement.

Clark himself has faced legal trouble before, as well.

According to  the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday, he has 300 Bitcoin — making him worth more than $3 million. Prosecutors have argued that most — if not all of that money — was likely illegally obtained, though Clark’s attorney has denied that claim. 

Last year, Clark was the subject of a criminal investigation where authorities seized $15,000 in cash and 400 bitcoin. Ultimately, Clark was never charged, prosecutors returned 300 bitcoin to him. 

While July’s Twitter hack stirred up significant (and justified) fear over just how easy it was for hackers to target users, as of now, it is unknown if this hack had any more sinister intentions outside of stealing money.

See what others are saying: (Tampa Bay Times) (Zdnet) (WIRED)

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TikTok’s Bryce Hall Launches Finance Podcast

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  • TikToker Bryce Hall has just launched a finance podcast titled “Capital University” with entrepreneur and investor Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano.
  • Pompliano will serve as a mentor figure, teaching Hall and listeners about building generational wealth, the basics of investing, and money management.
  • Hall was inspired to start the project after learning from the mistakes he made with money early on in his career. In the first episode of the podcast, he was also critical of other influencers who rely on YouTube ad revenue and TikTok brand deals while overspending on lavish items.
  • Some wonder if this venture will help change the public’s perception of Hall, who has developed a negative reputation for throwing massive parties during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Capital University

TikTok star and Sway House member Bryce Hall officially launched a finance podcast Tuesday where he and his fans will learn about money management.

The 21-year-old’s podcast is called “Capital University,” and he’s joined by co-host Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, an entrepreneur and investor who has worked for companies like Facebook and Snapchat before getting into venture capital.

Pompliano is supposed to serve as a sort of mentor figure, teaching Hall and listeners about building generational wealth, the basics of investing, and other tips for ensuring financial security.

Inspiration Behind the Podcast

However, Hall will also use the podcast to talk about his personal experience with fame and wealth at a young age. He told PEOPLE magazine that the idea for the podcast stemmed from mistakes he made earlier in his career.

″I always thought money was an object,″ Hall said. ″I was spending money before I even had it.″

He also talked about going ″completely broke″ and getting hit with taxes. All of this made him realize the importance of money management, which he though his fans might also want to know about.

Though he’s admitted to making mistakes with his money, he’s definitely worked to turn things around. For instance, he recently created an energy drink company called Ani with fellow Sway House creator Josh Richards.

On top of that, in the first episode of the podcast, Hall talked about his four-month-old merch brand, Party Animal, saying it clocked in more than $1 million in its first quarter.

Criticism of Other Influencers

With this new interest in learning about finance and business, the public could be seeing a lot more from Hall soon.

At the same time though, he also caught some attention for calling out the spending habits of another TikTok star, Thoman Petrou. He’s the co-founder of the Hype House, and Hall claims that Petrou, like other influencers, is taking a shorter-term approach in his career by relying on YouTube ad revenue and TikTok brand deals.

In fact, Hall estimated that Petrou makes about $150,000 a month but says he overspends on lavish items.

“He, along with many other influencers, like to really prove that they’re making a shit ton of money,” he said in the first episode of the podcast.

“But when you spend it like an idiot, and you’re buying like McLarens, Porsches, i8s, like just cash, I look at these kids and I’m like ‘Oh my god. They’re so stupid.'”

“They don’t understand that social media, this poppin’ time that they’re in, isn’t going to last forever, and right now, when you’re at the top, this is when you’re going to be making the most money. You just got to find a way to sustain it.”

For now, it will be interesting to see the reactions to this venture, and Hall’s new interest in finance has some wondering if it could change people’s perception of him. Hall earned himself a bad reputation for repeatedly throwing massive parties during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Still, some compare his success to that of YouTube Jake Paul, who is also recognized as a businessman and entrepreneur but has continued to embroil himself in controversies.

See what others are saying: (PEOPLE) (Tubefilter)

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Influencers Exposed for Posting Fake Private Jet Photos

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  • A viral tweet showed a studio set in Los Angeles, California that is staged to look like the inside of a private jet.
  • Some influencers were called out for using that very same studio to take social media photos and videos.
  • While some slammed them for faking their lifestyles online, others poked fun at the behavior and noted that this is something stars like Bow Wow have been caught doing before.
  • Others have even gone so far as to buy and pose with empty designer shopping bags to pretend they went on a massive spending spree.

A tweet went viral over the weekend exposing the secret behind some influencer travel photos.

“Nahhhhh I just found out LA ig girlies are using studio sets that look like private jets for their Instagram pics,” Twitter user @maisonmelissa wrote Thursday.

“It’s crazy that anything you’re looking at could be fake. The setting, the clothes, the body… idk it just kinda of shakes my reality a bit lol,” she continued in a tweet that quickly garnered over 100,000 likes.

The post included photos of a private jet setup that’s actually a studio in California, which you can rent for $64 an hour on the site Peerspace.

As the tweet picked up attention, many began calling out influencers who they noticed have posted photos or videos in that very same studio.

@the7angels

Come fly with the angels 👼

♬ Hugh Hefner – ppcocaine

Perhaps the most notable influencers to be called out were the Mian Twins, who eventually edited their Instagram captions to admit they were on a set.

While a ton of people were upset about this, others pointed out that it’s not exactly that new of an idea. Even Bow Wow was once famously called out in 2017 for posting a private plane photo on social media before being spotted on a commercial flight. 

Twitter users even noted other ridiculous things some people do for the gram, like buying out empty shopping bags to pretend they’ve gone on a shopping spree.

Meanwhile, others poked fun at the topic, like Lil Nas X, who is never one to miss out on a viral internet moment. He photoshopped himself into the fake private jet, sarcastically writing, “thankful for it all,” in his caption.

So ultimately, it seems like the moral of this story is: don’t believe everything you see on social media.

See what others are saying: (LADBible) (Dazed Digital) (Metro UK)

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South Korea’s Supreme Court Upholds Rape Case Sentences for Korean Stars Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon

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  • On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court in Seoul upheld the sentences of Jung Joon Young and Choi Jong Hoon for aggravated rape and related charges.
  • Jung will serve five years in prison, while Choi will go to prison for two-and-a-half.
  • Videos of Jung, Choi, and others raping women were found in group chats that stemmed from investigations into Seungri, of the k-pop group BigBang, as part of the Burning Sun Scandal.
  • The two stars tried to claim that some of the sex was consensual, but the courts ultimately found testimony from survivors trustworthy. Courts did, however, have trouble finding victims who were willing to come forward over fears of social stigma.

Burning Sun Scandal Fall Out

South Korea’s Supreme Court upheld the rape verdicts against stars Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon on Thursday after multiple appeals by the stars and their co-defendants.

Both Jung and Choi were involved in an ever-growing scandal involving the rapes and sexual assaults of multiple women. Those crimes were filmed and distributed to chatrooms without their consent.

The entire scandal came to light in March of 2019 when Seungri from the k-pop group BigBang was embroiled in what’s now known as the Burning Sun Scandal. As part of an investigation into the scandal, police found a chatroom that featured some stars engaging in what seemed to be non-consensual sex with various women. Police found that many of the message in the Kakaotalk chatroom (the major messaging app in South Korea) from between 2015 and 2016 were sent by Jung and Choi.

A Year of Court Proceedings

Jung, Choi, and five other defendants found themselves in court in November 2019 facing charges related to filming and distributing their acts without the consent of the victims, as well as aggravated rape charges. In South Korea, this means a rape involving two or more perpetrators.

The court found them all guilty of the rape charge. Jung was sentenced to six years behind bars, while Choi and the others were sentenced to five years. Jung was given a harsher sentence because he was also found guilty of filming and distributing the videos of their acts without the victim’s consent.

During proceedings, the court had trouble getting victims to tell their stories. Many feared being shamed or judged because of the incidents and didn’t want the possibility of that information going public. Compounding the court’s problems was the fact that other victims were hard to find.

To that end, the defendants argued that the sexual acts with some of the victims were consensual, albeit this didn’t leave out the possibility that there were still victims of their crimes. However, the court found that the testimony of survivors was trustworthy and contradicted the defendant’s claims.

Jung and Choi appealed the decision, which led to more court proceedings. In May 2020, the Seoul High Court upheld their convictions but reduced their sentences to five years for Jung and two and a half years for Choi.

Choi’s sentence was reduced because the court found that he had reached a settlement with a victim.

The decision was appealed a final time to the Supreme Court. This time they argued that most of the evidence against them, notably the Kakaotalk chatroom messages and videos, were illegally obtained by police.

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court ultimately disagreed with Jung and Choi and said their revised sentences would stand.

Jung, Choi, and the other defendants will also still have to do 80 hours of sexual violence treatment courses and are banned from working with children for five years.

See What Others Are Saying: (ABC) (Yonhap News) (Soompi)

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