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March 17, 2021

Graham Ivan Clark, the Florida teen who “masterminded” last year’s massive Twitter hack on high-profile figures such as Elon Musk and Joe Biden, will serve a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the breach.

Prosecutors say Clark, who was 17 at the time, commandeered dozens of Twitter accounts belonging to famous people and companies, and posted links soliciting bitcoin, netting him $117,000.

Though Clark was charged as an adult, he will be sentenced as a “youthful offender” under the plea deal, making him eligible to serve some time in a juvenile boot camp while avoiding a 10-year minimum sentence.

The 18-year-old will serve three years in prison followed by three years probation, and will not be allowed to use any electronic devices without permission from law enforcement during probation.

Two others, 22-year-old Nima Fazeli, who also lives in Florida, and 19-year-old Mason Sheppard, a British citizen, have also been charged with crimes related to the hack, though prosecutors say Clark was the ringleader.

“Graham Clark needs to be held accountable for that crime, and other potential scammers out there need to see the consequences,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement. “In this case, we’ve been able to deliver those consequences while recognizing that our goal with any child, whenever possible, is to have them learn their lesson without destroying their future.”

The sheer scale and brazenness of the hack raised questions about how a group of young people managed to gain access to Twitter’s internal systems. Prosecutors say Clark duped a Twitter employee into handing over login information for the company’s customer service portal by pretending to work in the company’s IT department. According to the New York Times, Clark was a prolific scammer known for cheating people out of money in the game Minecraft and on other hacker forums. According to court documents, Clark was also under investigation in California for allegedly stealing at least $1 million in cryptocurrency before the Twitter hack.