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Notorious Hacker PlugwalkJoe Sentenced to Five Years for Cryptocurrency Swindle

Joseph O'Connor's Cyber Crimes Culminate in Prison Term and Restitution

Mon, 26 Jun 2023, 08:14 am UTC

Joseph O'Connor, known as PlugwalkJoe in the realm of cybercrime, now faces a five-year confinement in a U.S. correctional facility for swindling an astounding $794,000 in cryptocurrency. The U.K. native's digital exploits finally caught up with him in Spain, where he was apprehended in July 2021. After his extradition to the United States in April 2023, he pled guilty in May to various charges, including computer intrusion conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy.

O'Connor's grand felony unfolded in 2019 when he orchestrated a clever SIM swap attack on an executive of an undisclosed cryptocurrency exchange. With access to the exchange's computing systems and accounts, he pilfered a significant amount of cryptocurrency, which he subsequently transferred to an account under his control.

On June 23, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced O'Connor's sentence, which includes five years of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Additionally, he is required to return the stolen amount of $794,000.

Notably, O'Connor's offenses extend beyond the cryptocurrency swindle. He was involved in the infamous Twitter hack in July 2020, where he and his accomplices hijacked approximately 130 prominent Twitter accounts, as well as some significant accounts on Snapchat and TikTok, using social engineering and SIM-swapping tactics. O'Connor even attempted to extort a victim on Snapchat by threatening to publicly release private messages.

Furthermore, O'Connor engaged in a series of "swatting attacks," fake emergency calls targeted at a victim he had been stalking and threatening. His activities serve as a stark reminder of the dangers that lurk within the digital realm.

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