Graham Ivan Clark Teen 'Mastermind' in Bit-Con Twitter Hack Gets 3 Years in Prison
March 17, 2021
Prosecutors with the Hillsborough
State Attorney’s Office have reached
a plea agreement in the case of
Graham Ivan Clark, the young
mastermind of the July 2020
“Bit-Con” worldwide hack of Twitter.
The outcome holds Clark accountable
for his actions, recognizes his
acceptance of responsibility, and
offers him a chance to get his life
on the right track.
Under the agreement approved Tuesday, Clark received a sentence of three years of incarceration followed by three years of probation. Clark has fully accepted responsibility for his criminal conduct. He pled guilty to all the charges listed in the charging document. The US Department of Justice and Florida Department of Law Enforcement—which were involved in the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of Clark—have been briefed on the plea agreement and support its terms.
Clark’s six total years of supervision are the maximum allowed under Florida’s Youthful Offender Act. Youthful Offender status is available only once in a person’s life. It means Clark’s incarceration will be served in a juvenile facility, and he will receive education and transition services to prepare him for a productive life after he serves his time. If Clark violates his probation, he will face a minimum ten-year sentence in adult prison.
“He took over the accounts of famous people, but the money he stole came from regular, hard-working people. Graham Clark needs to be held accountable for that crime, and other potential scammers out there need to see the consequences,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said. “In this case, we’ve been able to deliver those consequences while recognizing that our goal with any child, whenever possible, is to have them learn their lesson without destroying their future.”
A video statement from State Attorney Warren is available at this link: https://tinyurl.com/46u7ch2k .
The seven-and-a-half months Clark has already spent behind bars will be applied toward his three years of incarceration. Along with his probation, this means Clark will remain under supervision until the middle of 2026, when he will be 23 years old.
“A great deal of impressive work has gone into stopping these fraud schemes and holding the people behind them accountable. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement shared its expertise in economic crimes, working closely with our experienced team to define the charges and build the case. This is one part of a nationwide effort, and we want to recognize all the federal partners involved—the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, other elements of the US Department of Justice, the FBI, the IRS, and the Secret Service. They quickly unraveled this mystery that stretched around the world, and then worked nonstop to catch the fraudsters who tried to take advantage of millions of unsuspecting people,” State Attorney Warren said.
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said, “Because of the expertise and dedication of our cybercrime investigators, working with State Attorney Warren’s Office and the FBI, we were able to recover the stolen Bitcoin so it can be returned to the victims. I thank our FDLE agents and federal partners for their work quickly unraveling this case and hope it serves as a warning to potential hackers that if you commit a computer crime, our FDLE agents will find you.”
Federal investigators determined Clark had used a wide range of hacking and social engineering techniques to defeat security protocols at Twitter. On July 15, 2020, Clark used his access to Twitter’s internal systems to take over the accounts of several companies and celebrities, including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Barack Obama. Posing as the celebrities, Clark solicited Twitter users to send Bitcoin to a cryptocurrency account, pledging to send double the amount back to the user. Instead Clark kept the money, amounting to a total of 12.86 Bitcoin—worth approximately $117,440 on July 15, 2020. Law enforcement officials seized all the Bitcoin received by Clark through this Bit-Con scam and it is expected to be returned to its rightful owners. Clark was 17 when he was arrested on July 31, 2020 in Tampa; he turned 18 in January 2021.