In its continuing efforts to combat piracy, the United States seized the domain names owned by popular torrent website Kickasstorrents. Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of the site, was also taken into custody in Poland, where authorities are detaining him while the United States government attempts to extradite him. Although this may sound like the end of Kickasstorrents, the website appears to be already back up and running with a new domain name.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, at the time it seized Kickasstorrents, it was the most popular torrenting website in the world. The website also ranked 69th on the list of the most viewed sites worldwide. The total amount of data shared via Kickasstorrents reportedly amounted to over $1 billion.
Although the authorities seized all known domain names owned by Kickasstorrents, immediately following the seizure a new site using the www.dxtorrents.com URL emerged with the same site design. The home screen of this site even welcomes you with the familiar Kickasstorrents main page.
“Investigating cyber-enabled schemes is a top priority for CI,” said Chief Weber. “Websites such as the one seized today brazenly facilitate all kinds of illegal commerce. Criminal Investigation 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.”
Dxtorrents.com could simply be another torrenting site attempting to capitalize on Kickasstorrents current difficulties, or it could be the same website that has existed for years with a new domain. It isn’t clear which scenario is true at this time.
The U.S. Justice Department stated that Kickasstorrents pulled in an estimated $12.5 to $22.3 million in annual advertising revenues, so it is unlikely that those involved in running the site will simply let it go offline.
Although the Kickasstorrents site may live on with a new domain, the owner and operator of the site likely won’t get off so easy. In addition to multiple charges of copyright infringement, authorities also accused Vaulin of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “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.”
Of course, all of these are currently just charges, and Vaulin has not been found guilty of anything as of yet.