According to TorrentFreak, Artem Vaulin, 30, of Poland, was arrested in the Ukraine on a number of charges, including conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the copyrighted material over on the site is valued at over $1 billion. The US is seeing to extradite Vaulin and a federal court in Chicago has ordered the domains to be seized.
Vaulin, also known as “tirm,” is thought to be the person behind the founding of the site in 2008 and was heavily involved in the operations and financials of KAT. Investigators identified a number of servers that could be tied back to KAT, including one in Chicago (hence the complaint being filed there). They also allege that Vaulin was running the company Cryptoneat, which they say was used in part to conceal some of KAT’s operations.
“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 cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell in a press release issued by the Department of Justice.
This is a big hit for the torrent community, since KAT was one of, if not the, most popular torrent site, even bigger than the Pirate Bay. According to the criminal complaint, KAT is the 69th most frequently visited website online, and receives over 50 million unique hits a month.
Additionally, the criminal complaint reveals that investigators went undercover to advertise on the site, which revealed a bank account that was used.
At the time of this writing, kat.cr, which is the current domain for the site, doesn’t appear to be loading.