Artem Vaulin is the alleged owner of the website and hails from Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine.
He is said to have been running the site in the shadows since its inception in 2008 and was able to do this by using servers in different countries and also by moving his domains due to constant seizures and lawsuits.
He was arrested on Wednesday in Poland on behalf of the United States of America, which asked for Poland to surrender him to them for crimes that relate to the running of the site.
An undercover agent from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) who disguised himself as an advertiser, put in a request to Kickass Torrent to have his ad placed on the site. His request was accepted and the ad was placed on the site. This helped him gain access to a bank account based in Latvia which linked back to the Kickass website.
How Apple & Facebook Helped In His Arrest
Further investigations by the US revealed an email address that was linked to the Kickass domain and its social media accounts which included Facebook.
Apple later provided absolute records of Artem Vaulin’s iTunes purchases from an email hosting on @me.com
Records provided by Apple showed that [email protected] conducted an iTunes transaction using IP Address 18.104.22.168 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, [email protected] used IP Address 22.214.171.124 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 Apple provided also showed that someone legally made a purchase from iTunes and was using the same email address and IP address which were being used to handle Kickass Torrents’ official Facebook page.
Investigators also tracked a Bitcoin donation of Kickass Torrents that was linked to Coinbase, a Bitcoin exchange company that has its headquarters in San Francisco, California.
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 [email protected]
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 126.96.36.199 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 these records and more information from other sources, the U.S. authorities were able to arrest Artem Vaulin.
A copy of the criminal complaint filed in the US
Social Media Reactions
Why arrest the owner of Kickass Torrents? He just made the website. Arrest everyone who uses it.
— Prachi Chaudhary (@Aampeepal) July 22, 2016
Abeg ooo, dey cant arrest the owner of kickass torrent. New suits season just popped
— DOM (@chuckylans) July 20, 2016