Joseph O’Connor, a British hacker known as the PlugwalkJoe, has been sentenced to five years in a United States prison for his involvement in a SIM swap attack that resulted in the theft of $794,000 worth of cryptocurrency.
O’Connor, who was arrested in Spain and later extradited to the United States, pleaded guilty to several charges including conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, wire fraud, and money laundering.
In 2019, O’Connor and his co-conspirators executed SIM swap attacks on three crypto exchange executives, gaining unauthorized access to their accounts and computer systems.
Through these attacks, they managed to steal approximately $794,000 worth of cryptocurrency, which is now valued at over $1.6 million.
The stolen funds were later laundered through various transfers, transactions, and conversion to bitcoin using cryptocurrency exchange services. O’Connor controlled a crypto exchange account where a portion of the stolen cryptocurrency was deposited.
O’Connor’s prison sentence of five years was announced by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
In addition to the SIM swap attack, O’Connor pleaded guilty to multiple other crimes, including his involvement in the major Twitter hack of July 2020.
Alongside his crew, O’Connor hacked around 130 prominent Twitter accounts, as well as accounts on TikTok and Snapchat, using social engineering techniques and SIM-swapping attacks. These compromised accounts were then used to defraud other Twitter users or sold to interested parties.
O’Connor’s charges also include blackmailing, where he threatened victims on Snapchat to release private messages unless they promoted his online persona.
Additionally, he engaged in stalking and threats towards another victim, as well as orchestrating swatting attacks by falsely reporting emergencies or sending threatening messages to the families of his targets.