Kickass Torrents, the world's most popular file-sharing service, appears to be busted after a 30-year-old Ukrainian was arrested in Poland for allegedly running the service.
Artem Vaulin was arrested at the behest of a federal court in Chicago following an investigation that linked, among other things, Vaulin's iPhone and other data to a Kickass website.
Kickass is frequently named as a piracy site and is often blocked at the insistence of media companies by internet service providers in the UK and elsewhere. Browser companies also have occasional problems with the site.
The court documents seen by TorrentFreak desired the closure of the main Kickass page and a number of associated sites.
"Vaulin is charged with running today's most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1bn [worth] of copyrighted materials," claimed assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell in a US Department of Justice statement.
"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."
The FBI was able to put together evidence against Vaulin by posing as potential advertisers and attempting to make deals with the site. Agents were also able to identify a bank account used by the site's administrators. The court documents appear to suggest that Apple assisted the investigation by providing a physical address for an IP.
The authorities appear to believe that they have the man behind Kickass. "Investigating cyber-enabled schemes is a top priority," said Richard Weber, chief of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
"Websites such as the one seized today brazenly facilitate all kinds of illegal commerce. IRS-CI is committed to thoroughly investigating financial crimes, regardless of the medium.
"We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to unravel this and other complex financial transactions and money laundering schemes where individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their income and use the internet to mask their true identity."
Kickass was down at the time of writing. It remains to be seen whether it will stay down or, like The Pirate Bay, can be brought back to life.
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