The British teenager charged with hacking the Twitter accounts of the rich and famous in a Bitcoin scam faces 45 years in a US jail.
Mason Sheppard, 19, from Bognor Regis, was one of three people charged by the US Department of Justice on Friday night over an alleged cyber scam that targeted the accounts of various celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Elon Musk last month.
The British National Crime Agency (NCA) searched his home as part of the operation and he could be extradited to the US to stand trial if US prosecutors put in a request.
Sheppard, who is said to go by the codename Chaewon, has not been arrested by officers in the UK.
He has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer.
Another man, named as Nima Fazeli, aka “Rolex,” 22, of Orlando, Florida, was charged with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer.
Graham Clark, 17, was also arrested yesterday in Tampa, Florida, and now faces 30 charges, according to the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office.
It added that Mr Clark will be prosecuted as an adult and is allegedly the “mastermind” behind the hack which tried to scam £76,000 in a Bitcoin scam.
According to neighbours, Mr Sheppard – who attended a local state comprehensive school – is “a nice lad” whose father, Mark, passed away around five years ago.
They added that his mother, Lorraine, had been bringing him up since her husband died.
A woman in her sixties, who lives in the same road, said: “I know Lorraine and she’s lovely.
“I’ve not seen Mason in years but he was always a very nice lad.
“This is a real shock. No one around here has seen any police activity or anything.”
The tweets offered to send $2,000 (£1,500) for every $1,000 (£750) sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.
Twitter previously said hackers managed to fool the social media company’s employees into giving them access.
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.
The hackers targeted 130 accounts. They managed to tweet from 45 accounts, access the direct message inboxes of 36, and download the Twitter data from seven.
The NCA confirmed on Friday it had supported the US investigation and searched a property in West Sussex with officers from SEROCU, a collaboration between the Police Forces of Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Thames which focuses on organised crime in the south east.
A Government source told The Telegraph there was “always the possibility” the US could put in an extradition request, but would not confirm if one had been made.
Recall also that Apple’s Twitter Account Was Hacked by Bitcoin Scammers
A Home Office spokesperson said: “As a matter of long-standing policy and practice, we neither confirm nor deny the existence of extradition requests.”