Joseph James O’Connor was charged earlier this week in New York with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit computer hacking.
The charges stem from a scheme that resulted in the theft of $784,000 in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
The program ran from March to May of 2019. O’Connor, also known as PlugwalkJoe on the internet, used SIM swap attacks on senior executives of a cryptocurrency company in Manhattan, as well as two other clients. The stolen funds were then laundered by O’Connor and his associates.
This was not, however, O’Connor’s first run-in with the law.
A celebrity-studded Twitter hack
O’Connor was arrested in July for his involvement in the infamous July 2020 Twitter hack, which compromised the accounts of some of the most prominent figures in politics and popular culture.
The massive Twitter hack was centered on a bogus Bitcoin giveaway, and compromised accounts included former US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Apple, Uber, Kanye West, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates.
The scam instructed users to send a small amount of Bitcoin to a specific address in exchange for larger amounts of Bitcoin.
It wasn’t just famous politicians or celebrities who were targeted. The scam also targeted Binance, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, and Tron’s Justin Sun.
After all was said and done, the scam allegedly netted more than $118,000 in Bitcoin.