Thursday, July 21, 2016
Legal Apple ID purchase lead to owner of Kickass Torrents, one of world's largest illegal download sites
The use of an Apple ID for a perfectly legal purchase was the key piece of evidence that has enabled the Department of Homeland Security to identify the man they suspect to be the owner of the biggest pirate website on the net, KickAssTorrents.com (KAT).
A lengthy criminal complaint filed against Ukranian national Artem Vaulin by the U.S. Attorney’s Office explains how the Apple ID enabled authorities to identify the suspect.
Events kicked off in November of last year when an undercover IRS agent posing as a representative of a study program booked an ad on the site. That correspondence enabled them to identify an email address linked to both the site and KAT’s presence on Facebook, which led first to an IP address in Chicago and from there to a separate Apple email address (a me.com one).
Apple was served with a court order requiring it to identify any activity from that email address, and responded by releasing details of an iTunes purchase. The IP address for that purchase was found to be identical to one used to access the KAT Facebook page on the same day, providing the crucial evidence linking Vaulin to the pirate site.
Vaulin has been charged with a range of copyright infringement and money laundering charges, with Assistant Attorney General Caldwell alleging that he is responsible for over $1B worth of illegal file sharing.
Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.
The irony of the alleged owner of the world’s biggest pirate site being caught by a legal purchase from iTunes is straight from the Dept of You Can't Make This Stuff Up.