OAKLAND, Calif. — One by one, the celebrity Twitter accounts posted the same strange message: Send Bitcoin and they would send back double your money. Elon Musk. Bill Gates. Kanye West. Joseph R. Biden Jr. Former President Barack Obama. They, and dozens of others, were being hacked, and Twitter appeared powerless to stop it.
While some initially thought the hack was the work of professionals, it turns out the “mastermind” of one of the most high-profile hacks in recent years was a 17-year-old recent high school graduate from Florida, the authorities said on Friday.
Graham Ivan Clark was arrested in his Tampa apartment, where he lived by himself, early Friday, state officials said. He faces 30 felony charges in the hack, including fraud, and is being charged as an adult.
Two other people, Mason John Sheppard, 19, of the United Kingdom, and Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, Fla., were accused of helping Mr. Clark during the takeover. Prosecutors said the two appeared to have aided the central figure in the attack, who went by the name Kirk. Documents released on Friday do not provide the real identity of Kirk, but they suggest that it was Mr. Clark.
Mr. Clark was skilled enough to go unnoticed inside Twitter’s network, said Andrew Warren, the Florida state attorney handling the case.
“This was not an ordinary 17-year-old,” Mr. Warren said.
Mr. Clark convinced one of the company’s employees that he was a co-worker in the technology department who needed the employee’s credentials to access the customer service portal, a criminal affidavit from Florida said. By the time the hackers