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Canadian accused in Yahoo hack boasted of lavish lifestyle online

March 16,2017 23:41

The Canadian man arrested in connection with a massive email hack at Yahoo appears to have a strong presence on social media, where he frequently boasts about his wealth, his exotic car collection and his love for working out. Police say Karim Baratov, ...

Authorities say a 22-year-old Canadian man of Kazakh origins has been arrested in Hamilton as one of four suspects in a massive hack of Yahoo. One neighbour says Karim Baratov mostly kept to himself.(The Canadian Press )In the photo, Karim Baratov leans against his sleek black Mercedes, parked next to his vanity-plated Aston Martin in the driveway of his Ancaster home.Baratov, 22, was led down this same driveway by Toronto police on Tuesday, neighbours say.On Wednesday, the United States Department of Justice announced that Baratov had been indicted, along with two Russian intelligence officers and a Russian man once on the FBI’s Most Wanted Cyber Criminals list, in connection with a hack of 500 million Yahoo accounts. None of the charges have been proven in court.If convicted on his most serious charge, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Baratov could face a maximum of 20 years in jail.In scouring extensive social media accounts that appear to belong to Baratov, examining property records and speaking with neighbours and former classmates, a profile has emerged of the young Canadian of Kazakh origin caught up in this major cross-border digital crime.Article Continued BelowSocial media entries that appear to have been posted by Baratov portray the life of a wealthy young man with money to burn on luxury cars, arm-length tattoos and performance-enhancing workout supplements.Karim Baratov, seen in a picture posted to Facebook.  (Facebook)  Ministry of Transportation documents show that Baratov has, at various times in the past five years, affixed his “Mr Karim” vanity license plate to an Aston Martin, a Porsche, an Audi, a Lamborghini, a Mercedes Benz and three BMWs.Classmates recalled that Baratov began driving flashy cars and wearing expensive clothes in high school.Karim Baratov, in a photo from his Instagram account.  (Instagram)  “He had the biggest amount of disposable income that I’d ever seen for a person that age,” said Jake Hagen, who started going to school with Baratov in Grade 7.“He bought his friends everything (like) clothes, and he’d take them all out to dinner,” Hagen added, noting that Baratov was “just really weird” as a teen.“He was a guy who very much understood that he was very well off and that people hung out with him because he had money.”Avian Yuen said he was “impressed” by Baratov’s money and found him to be a polite and introverted kid, who obviously had a talent for computer programming.In an online Q&A that appears to have been hosted by Baratov, he says he is a professional programmer and that he is active in the stock market.“At 14 I was making more than both of my parents combined. At 15 I got my first million,” he writes.Some of Baratov's former classmates recalled that he began flaunting his wealth in high school and would often splurge on his friends, taking them shopping or out to dinner.  (Instagram)  A link on a Facebook page that appears to belong to Baratov leads to elitespace.net, a Russian-language website that offers web servers and web hosting services to people in Russia and China.Vehicle records show that in 2016, Baratov took out loans of over $104,000 and $65,000 for a 2009 Aston Martin and 2013 Mercedes, respectively.If Baratov is convicted, U.S. authorities will seize all assets that are considered to be the proceeds of crime, the Department of Justice said in its indictment.That includes the Aston Martin, the Mercedes and all funds held in a PayPal account that belongs to Baratov and is registered in the name of his company Elite Space Corporation.A photo of Karim Baratov taken from one of his many social media accounts.  (Imgrum / @mrkarrrim)  Property records show that in 2015, Baratov and a middle-aged married couple named Akhmet Tokbergenov and Dinara Tokbergenova, bought a home in an Ancaster subdivision for $642,500, taking out a mortgage of $514,000 that has not yet been paid off.The U.S. Department of Justice said Baratov also goes by the names “Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov” and “Karim Taloverov.”The home was listed for sale two days ago for about $930,000 but was abruptly delisted Wednesday.In a handful of Instagram and Facebook posts, Baratov flexes his arm muscles and details his 11 weekly visits to the gym.Ministry of Transportation documents show that Baratov had affixed a "Mr Karim" vanity license plate to at least eight luxury vehicles in the last five years.  (Imgrum / @mrkarrrim)  “My body feels like a little science project lately,” writes Baratov under a photo of performance supplements. “Ordered almost every (supplement) that is available for sale.”In other posts, Baratov shows off his pencil sketches.Baratov appears to have drawn himself as the Terminator in one sketch. In another, he has copied the nude portrait of actress Kate Winslet from the film Titanic. In a third, he had drawn a silhouette of a man’s head, filled with visions of a mansion, a pole dancer, a sports car and a sack full of cash.Neighbours said Baratov lives alone in the modern, two-storey house, and has little contact with them.Baratov regularly documented his weekly visits to the gym with numerous selfies.  (Instagram)  A couple that neighbours thought were Baratov’s parents would visit regularly to do chores, they said.“We thought there was something strange about him,” said Kerry Carter, who lives two doors down. “How did such a young guy have so many cars?”Carter said Baratov was generally a quiet neighbour but did throw parties. At times his friends’ pricey cars lined the street, she said.The Department of Justice announced charges Wednesday against two Russian intelligence officers and two hackers, accusing them of a mega data breach at Yahoo that affected at least a half billion user accounts.(The Associated Press)In a Facebook post that appears to have been made by Baratov, he boasts that being suspended from high school for “threatening to kill my ex-friend as a joke,” gave him enough spare time to build up his business. In the post, he claims he later got himself expelled from school, saying that it “changed my life to better.”Jeff Josiph described Baratov as one of his closest friends but, when asked what Baratov does for a living said, “I don’t pay attention to his work life, I hung out with him because he was a good guy.”Shane Leo said he has known Baratov since the pair attended Ancaster High School together.Cars sit in the driveway of Baratov's house in this picture taken from his Facebook page.  (Facebook)  “Karim is a nice guy and a loyal friend and I can always rely on him in times of need,” Leo told the Star. “Anything that he has done in the past does not define him now... He always motivates me to be the best I can be and has been a very positive impact on my life.”With files from Alicja Siekierska and The Canadian PressKarim Baratov liked to flaunt his wealth on social media, posting photos of high-end cars and luxury clothes.  (AskFM / @mrkarim)  Karim Baratov was indicted Wednesday in connection with the hack of 500 million Yahoo accounts. If convicted on the most serious charge, he could face up to 20 years in jail.  (Instagram)  Delivered dailyThe Morning Headlines NewsletterThe Toronto Star and thestar.com, each property of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited, One Yonge Street, 4th Floor, Toronto, ON, M5E 1E6. You can unsubscribe at any time. Please contact us or see our privacy policy for more information.

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