WASHINGTON: The suspected teenage mastermind of a huge Twitter hack pled not guilty Tuesday to allegations he hijacked celebrity accounts to swindle people out of more than US$100,000 in a cryptocurrency scheme.
The 17-year-old Tampa, Florida resident pled not guilty before a state court, during a short hearing conducted via video conference, according to the Tampa Bay Times newspaper.
He was arrested Friday along with two others, aged 19 and 22, one of whom lives in Britain, and was charged with cyber fraud.
Investigators viewed the 17-year-old as the mastermind behind the mid-July cyberattack that rocked Twitter.
Hackers who accessed dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts gained access to the system with an attack that tricked a handful of employees into giving up their credentials, according to a company update.
The hackers “targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack”, according to a Twitter Support statement.
The massive hack of users from Elon Musk to Joe Biden affected at least 130 accounts, with tweets posted by the usurpers duping people into sending US$100,000 in Bitcoin, supposedly in exchange for double the amount sent.
The official accounts of Apple, Uber, Kanye West, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and others were also affected.
The incident has raised concerns about the security of the platform increasingly used for conversations on politics and public affairs, particularly as the US presidential election in November approaches.