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Teen Accused in Twitter Hack Sees Hearing Hacked With Porn

Chris Dolmetsch

(Bloomberg) -- A bail hearing by Zoom for the 17-year-old accused of hacking some of the world’s highest-profile Twitter accounts last month offered some surprises when a lawyer revealed that the teenager was already under investigation last year -- and then the session was interrupted by participants showing porn.

Graham Ivan Clark’s lawyers were in the middle of asking a Florida judge to lower their client’s bail -- saying the $725,000 he’s required to post to get out of jail is disproportionate to the $117,000 he’s alleged to have reaped from the hack -- when the raunchy images were broadcast into Wednesday’s hearing, bringing it to an unceremonious end.

Clark was arrested last week and charged with hacking into the accounts of notable businesspeople, celebrities and politicians, including former president Barack Obama, Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos and Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk, and posting messages soliciting Bitcoin donations. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on the $725,000 bond.

On top of arguing for lower bail, attorney David Weisbrod told Judge Christopher Nash in Tampa that his client shouldn’t have to prove the source of any funds he posts. In making that argument, he revealed that authorities had served a search warrant on Clark’s residence last August, almost a year before the massive Twitter hack, as part of a separate investigation, and froze a cryptocurrency account of his.

After the raid, Clark agreed to forfeit 100 Bitcoins -- about $1.2 million based on today’s Bitcoin price of about $11,600 -- as part of an agreement under which he wasn’t prosecuted and admitted no wrongdoing, Weisbrod told the court. In an interview after the hearing, he said the 100 Bitcoins represented about 25% of the cryptocurrency in Clark’s account, which authorities unfroze after making the agreement. He declined to comment further on the previous investigation.

Read More: ‘Mastermind’ Accused of Twitter Hack Just Out of High School

Last year’s probe was into a “SIM swap” scheme, lawyers for Clark said in court filings. In a SIM swap, hackers fool phone carriers into changing a person’s SIM card, used in authentication, to capture calls, texts and sensitive data, sometimes including bank account information. Such a ruse was at the center of a hack last year of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey himself. The company closed the loophole by suspending the ability to tweet via text.

The investigation involved the alleged theft of $1 million from California residents, Florida prosecutors said in court papers. The day his funds were unfrozen, prosecutors say, Clark allegedly transferred them to another account to begin the activity that led to the current charges.

Prosecutor Darrell Dirks urged the judge not to budge on the bail, saying the loss may be greater than $117,000 and that “we are still discovering the breadth and depth of the defendant’s criminal conduct.”

The judge hadn’t ruled on the bail request when he was forced to cancel the hearing because of the porn bombs. In the end, he kept the bail amount as it is but agreed to remove the condition that Clark prove the source of his funds, Weisbrod said in the interview.

(Updates with further details of the previous investigation. An earlier version of this story was corrected to reflect Clark’s not-guilty plea.)

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