A federal court sentenced James O’Conner, a well-known figure in cryptocurrency fraud and hacker circles, to five years in jail. O’Conner was sentenced after pleading guilty to various charges, including orchestrating a SIM-swapping attack to gain unauthorized access to a popular TikTok account.
In July 2020, O’Conner, along with a group of hackers, successfully gained control of prominent Twitter accounts belonging to notable individuals such as Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Elon Musk. Exploiting their unauthorized access, the hackers devised a Bitcoin fraud scheme by advertising promises to double any Bitcoin sent to a specific address. Twitter managed to deactivate the compromised accounts, but not before the hackers raked in nearly $794,000 in Bitcoin through the scheme.
The Justice Department claims that O’Conner and his accomplices engaged in the theft and fraudulent diversion of the pilfered cryptocurrency. They further laundered the funds through numerous transfers and transactions, eventually converting some of it into Bitcoin using cryptocurrency exchange services. O’Conner himself stored the stolen Bitcoins in a cryptocurrency exchange account.
The breach exploited by O’Conner and his team was reportedly discovered by Graham Ivan Clark, a teenager claimed to be the mastermind behind the incident. Clark subsequently pleaded guilty and received a three-year prison sentence. In contrast, O’Conner has been sentenced to five years in prison, along with three years of supervised release upon completion of his sentence.
Additionally, the federal judge has ordered O’Conner to repay the $794,000 he acquired through the fraudulent activities.
The case involving O’Conner serves as a reminder that cryptocurrency scams are not isolated incidents and are likely to persist in the future. As an Internet user, it is crucial to be vigilant against scammers and familiarize oneself with their tactics aimed at infiltrating devices or coercing individuals into making payments through deceptive webpages.
Implementing measures to safeguard online privacy, such as utilizing strong passwords, exercising caution with suspicious emails and links, and enabling two-factor authentication, can go a long way in protecting oneself from falling victim to such schemes.