Joseph James O’Connor pleaded guilty to involvement in various cybercrimes, including the infamous July 2020 Twitter hack that hijacked hundreds of accounts belonging to famous people and companies.
O’Connor, known online as PlugwalkJoe, hails from Liverpool. In April he was extradited from Spain to the United States. In 2020, unknown criminals hacked into Twitter and took over the accounts of well-known figures such as Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and Elon Musk to scam crypto under their names.
According to law enforcement, O’Connor communicated with his accomplices about buying unauthorized access to Twitter accounts. He allegedly bought access to at least one Twitter account himself for $10,000. Moreover, he was also involved in hacking a TikTok account with millions of followers as well as a Snapchat account by SIM card swapping. In both cases, O’Connor and his accomplices stole the victims’ sensitive personal information and then threatened to make it public. According to The Guardian, TikTok star Addison Rae and actress Bella Thorne are among the victims.
Additionally, from March to May 2019, O’Connor was involved in breaking into a cryptocurrency company in Manhattan to steal $794,000 worth of cryptocurrencies. He used SIM swapping to hack into one of the company’s three executives and was successful. With a compromised account, he was able to gain unauthorized access to company accounts and computer systems. He then “laundered” the stolen cryptocurrency by transferring it many times and using crypto exchanges.
O’Connor pleaded guilty to a long list of charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Any offense carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. It is reported that the verdict will be pronounced on June 23.