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Kickass Torrents’ founder arrested by federal authorities after a ‘legal’ iTunes transaction

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As ironic as it may sound, the founder of currently the largest torrent (illegal downloading of course) site — Kickass Torrents apparently purchased legally from iTunes. And that became his undoing as federal authorities in Poland tracked him and put him behind bars this morning. The US authorities have filed a claim for bringing him in the country for trial.

TorrentFreaks reported the news saying that the prosecutors have charged him with criminal conspiracy and copyright infringement. The prosecutors have filed total four charges against 30-year-old founder named Artem Vaulin.

The attorney has charged Vaulin with two cases of copyright infringement along with two conspiracies. One for committing money laundering and other for criminal copyright infringement. He further alleged that Vaulin was responsible for stealing more than $1 billion in profits from the U.S. entertainment industry.

In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said,

Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials. In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cyber criminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.

How authorities caught Vaulin

Artem Vaulin ran Kickass Torrents (KAT) from Ukraine. Unlike The Pirate Bay, former number 1 torrent site, KAT did not host individual files. It rather offered links of .torrent and .magnet files from various BitTorrent users.

The authorities have estimated the annual advertising revenues of KAT at more than $16 million per year as of 2016. Apparently, an undercover IRS agent posed as an advertiser on KAT website in March 2016. The representative of KAT, named Mr. White, gave the details of a Latvian bank account for payment. He also asked not to mention the name of KAT anywhere. Later, the agent again contacted Mr. White for a pricier banner ad. This time, he gave new banking details of an account in Estonia.

With help from Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process, US authorities obtained the details of those bank records. They located Vaulin after he purchased(most probably legally) from iTunes and then used the same IP address to log into KAT’s Facebook page.

As per the court documents, Apple also helped authorities by providing the personal details of Vaulin after his purchase.

Unsurprisingly, the website looks down at present and given the case against Vaulin, we can expect it to remain like this, at least for a while.

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