TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa teenager who authorities say is at the center of a large-scale Twitter hack has been under criminal investigation before, 8 On Your Side has learned.
Handcuffed in a black jumpsuit and charged as an adult, Graham Clark went before a judge for the first time this weekend. Prosecutors say the 17-year-old must now face the music.
8 On Your Side has learned prosecutors in Santa Clara, California and in Hillsborough County ordered a search of his home last year. In April, just months before the infamous Twitter hack, prosecutors dismissed the case, Clark’s defense attorney said in court on Saturday.
According to a report in the New York Times, Clark’s parents divorced when he was 7. The report also says the teen allegedly cheated people out of money before.
“All of the hackers…we’re all a little weird,” said Brandon McCrillis, the CEO of the cybersecurity firm Rendition.
McCrillis, a former analyst for the National Security Agency, says a majority of hackers spend a lot of time unsupervised online.
Prosecutors allege Clark compromised a Twitter employee in order to gain access to Twitter’s internal accounts.
“Would I call this some sort of criminal mastermind hack of the century? Absolutely not,” said McCrillis.
He says analysts could tell the hack was not the work of a nation state.
“Tracks weren’t covered very well, the activity of Mr. Clark was traced exactly back to his apartment,” said McCrillis.
The 17-year-old is accused of gaining unprecedented access to high-profile accounts.
“Using that kind of access for a Bitcoin scam, shows a level of immaturity and a lack of tradecraft,” said McCrillis.
According to court records, the 17-year-old was stopped twice for traffic violations in the past year. In one incident, he was allegedly going 72 in a 45 while driving a 2017 BMW.
8 On Your Side reached out to Clark’s mom and a group of online associates to learn more.
Clark is set to be arraigned on 30 felony counts on Tuesday.
LATEST FROM 8 ON YOUR SIDE:
- Multi-million dollar restitution order nets pennies on the dollar for victim who nearly died
- Manatee Co. woman wants answers after her disabled mom’s bank account paid a stranger’s bill
- Former Hernando Co. sheriff candidate arrested on fraud charges, accused in scheme to defraud
- Son of man at center of deadly stand your ground case accused of threatening Hernando deputies with knife
- Tampa mom warns about mysterious COVID-related illness in kids