The FBI on Tuesday served a search warrant on a 16-year-old related to his alleged role in the July 15 hack on Twitter Inc., the New York Times reported.
The youth was believed to have played a significant role in the attack, the Times reported. The attack took over the accounts of some of Twitter’s most prominent users, including Barack Obama and Elon Musk, as part of an alleged crytocurrency scam.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed “law enforcement activity” at the youth’s house in Massachusetts, where the mother told a Bloomberg reporter to leave.
Another teenager, Graham Ivan Clark, a 17-year-old from Florida, was arrested and accused of being the mastermind of the attack. Clark, who will be tried as an adult, pleaded not guilty. Two others were charged for their role in the alleged cyber-attack.
The defendants were allegedly part of an underground subculture of hackers dedicated to stealing, buying and selling online accounts with desirable user names.
In previous interviews with a Bloomberg reporter, the teenager who was served a search warrant on Tuesday denied any involvement in the Twitter hack, but said that he used to buy and sell social media usernames. His father also previously said that his son wasn’t involved with the Twitter hack.
Other hackers had shared a picture of the teenager with Bloomberg holding what appeared to be a wad of US$100 bills. The youth said the photo was him and that the money was legitimate proceeds from selling usernames online. “It wasn’t smart of me to flash money like that,” the teenager said in an interview in July.
The family’s Massachusetts home for several years has been the target of so-called “swatting attacks,” when someone calls 911 with a fake threat to elicit a forceful police response, according to police dispatch logs obtained by Bloomberg. The teenager said he believes the swatting was harassment from online enemies, and that such tactics are sometimes used by hackers to torment rivals. The day after the Twitter hack took place, for instance, a call falsely reported that three men wearing black and carrying two handguns were outside the home.
Bloomberg isn’t naming the teenager because he’s a minor.