Canadian accused in Yahoo hack boasted of lavish lifestyle online
Published Wednesday, March 15, 2017 3:04PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 15, 2017 4:00PM EDT
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, 22, was arrested without incident in Ancaster, Ont., on Tuesday, at the request of U.S. authorities.
The U.S. Department of Justice says a grand jury in California indicted Baratov along with three others, including two alleged officers of the Russian Federal Security Service, for economic espionage, computer hacking and several other criminal offences.
On Twitter, Kazakhstan's foreign affairs ministry said Baratov was a citizen of the country until 2011. The Department of Justice named him as a dual Canadian-Kazakh national.
Social media accounts matching Baratov's name and the photo released by the Department of Justice indicate he had a strong online presence under variations of the screenname "Mr. Karim." Baratov appears in most of the photos on the @mrkarrrim Instagram account, which has more than 28,000 followers.
"I'm 22. Workaholic. Occasional drawer. (sic) Gym rat. Cars are everything. Sleep is optional," @mrkarrrim's Instagram profile says. "Don't follow me, I'm boring."
His last Instagram post was published early Tuesday. The image appears to show Baratov holding a Red Bull in a nightclub, alongside another man and a woman. "Quality #family time," he wrote in the post.
A Facebook account in Baratov's name, with photos matching his appearance, lists Ancaster, Ont. as his home and Moscow as his city of origin.
In a Facebook post published on Feb. 14, Baratov says he was expelled from school exactly four years ago for "threatening to kill my ex-friend as a joke." He says the time off school "allowed me to work on my online projects 24/7, and really move my businesses to the next level."
Officials say the Yahoo hack affecting 500 million accounts occurred in January of 2014. Another breach affecting 1 billion users occurred in August of 2013.
In Baratov's post, he brags about the money he made while attending high school, which he used to buy a BMW 7 series and pay off the mortgage on his first house. "However, all the extra free time allowed me to make triple and even quadruple the normal amount. By the time my suspension was done, I changed my whole life plan!" he wrote.
He says he insulted his principal so he could get expelled, then finished his education online. "My advice to you is (to) give yourself permission to get the most out of your life," he wrote. "Taking shortcuts doesn't mean shortcutting the end result."
Baratov attached several photos to the post, which show him posing with various expensive sports cars, including an Audi, a BMW and a Lamborghini. Licence plates on the cars read "MR KARIM" or "MR KARRRIM."
Other photos online show Baratov working out.
Other posts on Baratov's Facebook page show what appear to be his drawings. One image, titled "Hidden Desires" in the post, shows a house, a sports car, a bag of money and a silhouetted woman on a stripper pole, contained inside the outline of Baratov's head.
Another image shows a self-portrait that bears a strong resemblance to the DOJ image.
All of the images are signed "Mr. Karim."
Baratov "liked" a long list of pages on Facebook, including many workout, nightclub and exotic car pages.
In terms of politics, Baratov liked Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary, U.S. President Donald Trump, and pages mocking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. His other interests include Star Wars, Resident Evil, Game of Thrones and Tila Tequila.
A tattoo on his arm, which was completed eight weeks ago, includes his "Mr. Karim" nickname, written in binary code. Baratov shows off the tattoo in an Instagram post.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.