FBI San Francisco
San Francisco Media Office
July 31, 2020

Statement from FBI San Francisco Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sanjay Virmani on Arrests in Twitter Cyber Attack

I would like to take a moment to update you on recent developments in the investigation into the Twitter security incident that occurred on July 15, 2020. Our investigation is ongoing, and there is still more work to yet to do. However, as of today, the FBI and our partners have taken two individuals into custody. They are facing either federal or state criminal charges, including computer intrusion, fraud, money laundering, wire fraud, and identity theft.

Before I get into the compromise itself, I would like to take a moment to emphasize our partnerships with local, state, federal and international law enforcement partners, as well as the private sector, all of which made this investigation successful.

We could not do our work effectively without close working relationships with these entities, and this investigation is a great example of how important they truly are to holding those who commit crimes responsible for their actions. Cyber investigations often take years, but in this case we were able to conduct our investigation and make a number of arrests in just a few weeks.

In this investigation, we worked with the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Northern District of California and the Middle District of Florida, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), FBI Tampa Division, the Office of the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit in Tampa, Florida, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom.

During this attack, numerous verified Twitter accounts were compromised, to include the accounts of prominent politicians, industry leaders, and well-known U.S. companies. After the accounts were compromised, fraudulent tweets were posted to conduct a cryptocurrency scam. To address and mitigate this security breach, Twitter disabled all verified Twitter accounts for several hours. During this incident it was discovered that hackers had also compromised numerous non-verified Twitter accounts, which were targeted based on the perceived value of their screen names.

Our goal was to identify those responsible, put a stop to their illegal activity, and hold them responsible for these crimes. Today’s arrests represent just the first step for law enforcement. Our investigation will continue to identify anyone else who may have been involved in these crimes.

We encourage the public to come forward if you know of any additional information relating to this case. To contact FBI San Francisco, please go to tips.fbi.gov or call 415-553-7400. Tips can remain anonymous.