Kickass Torrents’ owner Artem Vaulin has been arrested but the way Apple, Facebook and Coinbase helped the US authorities to track Vaulin back to Europe sounds like some script from a James Bond movie!

Kickass Torrents fans should already know that its 30-year-old alleged owner, Artem Vaulting,  has been arrested in Poland by the US authorities on suspicions of reproducing and distributing copyrighted content worth $1 billion. Vaulin, who is a Ukranian national was supposedly running Kickass Torrents platform behind the scene for last 8years leaving no trace marks whatsoever. 

However, there are some more details about his arrest that are coming to the fore and they are shocking. They include both tech giant Apple Inc. and social media giant Facebook. It all started when an undercover agent from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) disguising as an advertiser contacted Kickass Torrents to put an advert on the site, after a while the agent was successful in placing an ad on the site allowing him to have access to a Latvia-based bank account linked with the Kickass website. 

Must Read: KickassTorrents Becomes First Torrent Site to Introduce Two-Factor Authentication

Upon further investigations, the US authorities discovered an email address that was linked to the Kickass Torrents domain plus its social media accounts including Mark Zuckerberg’s very own Facebook. Later on, Apple provided complete records of Vaulin’s purchase activities on iTunes store from an email hosting on @me.com. 

Records provided by Apple showed that tirm@me.com conducted an iTunes transaction using IP Address 109.86.226.203 on or about July 31, 2015. The same IP Address was used on the same day to login into the KAT Facebook Account. Then, on or about December 9, 2015, tirm@me.com used IP Address 78.108.181.81 to conduct another iTunes transaction. The same IP Address was logged as accessing the KAT Facebook Account on or about December 4, 2015.

The records provided by Apple showed that someone made a legal purchase from iTunes using the same email address using the same IP address that was also being used to login on to Facebook in order to handle Kickass Torrents’ official Facebook page. But, that’s not all, the authorities also tracked Bitcoin donation process of KAT which was linked to Coinbase, a Bitcoin exchange company headquartered in San Francisco, California.

The records provided by Coinbase revealed further information about Vaulin such as:

Records received from the bitcoin exchange company Coinbase revealed that the KAT Bitcoin Donation Address sent bitcoins it received to a user’s account maintained at Coinbase. This account was identified as belonging to Artem Vaulin located in Kharkov, Ukraine, with a backup email address of tirm@me.com.

The records returned by Facebook also provided the IP logins to the KAT Facebook Account since on or about October 21, 2014. Notably, IP address 78.108.178.77 accessed the KAT Facebook Account about a dozen times in September and October 2015. This same IP Address was used to login to Vaulin’s Coinbase account 47 times between or on about January 28, 2014, through to on or about November 13, 2014.

After receiving further information from different sources the US authorities were able to arrest the man behind the mask Artem Vaulin in Poland. 

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For the time being several other Kickass Torrents domains are popping up online but it’s a matter of  time before authorities shut them down as well. Currently, KAT fans have ThePirateBay.org to enjoy and in case you want to read the 50-page criminal complaint on Vaulin’s arrest filed by the U.S Attorney’s Office click here.

Ryan De Souza

Ryan is a London-based member of the HackRead's Editorial team. A graduate of Maths and physics with a passion for geopolitics and human rights. Ryan places integrity at the pinnacle of successful journalism and believes this is somewhat lacking in traditional media. Ryan is an educator who balances his time between family, social activism and humanitarian causes and his vice is Football and cars.