A rare Twitter username valued at £30,000 that was stolen last month in a dramatic series of hacks has been returned to its rightful owner.
Naoki Hiroshima lost his Twitter handle, @N, to the hands of a hacker who used social engineering and extortion to hack his PayPal and GoDaddy accounts before finally gaining control of the coveted username through extortion.
“As of today, I no longer control @N. I was extorted into giving it up,” Hiroshima wrote in January, in a lengthy blog post recounting the stranger-than-fiction plot of his Twitter handle theft — complete with email correspondence with his hacker.
The hacker was apparently able to obtain Hiroshima’s credit card information from his PayPal account, and then used that to reset the login credentials on his GoDaddy account, although PayPal denies giving the attacker any information.
The attacker then threatened to delete Hiroshima’s domains and websites, unless he handed over the valuable handle.
Hiroshima eventually turned @N over to the attacker and notified Twitter, opening a new account called @N_IS_STOLEN, but Twitter said it was “investigating” and did not return the handle to Hiroshima immediately. The @N account was made private and was later shut down, but access was not restored to Hiroshima until today.
“Order has been restored,” Hiroshima tweeted from @N on Tuesday afternoon. Contacted by the media for comment, Twitter refused to issue a statement, saying that the company doesn’t talk about private accounts for privacy and security reasons.
Today, he tweeted “This is a happy ending not only for me but also for sane employees and loyal users of Twitter’s. Congrats to those, too.”
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