Social media posts detail lavish lifestyle of alleged Yahoo hacker Karim Baratov
The Canadian man from Ancaster, Ont., was indicted along with three Russians, in connection with a hack of 500 million Yahoo accounts.
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In the photo, Karim Baratov leans against his sleek black Mercedes, which is 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.
In scouring Baratov’s extensive social media accounts, examining property records and talking with neighbours, a profile has emerged of the young Canadian of Kazakh origin caught up in this major cross-border digital crime.
Social 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.
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.
High school classmates recalled that Baratov began driving flashy cars in high school.
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.
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.
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.”
In a handful of Instagram and Facebook posts, Baratov flexes his arm muscles and details his 11 weekly visits to the gym.
“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 others 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.
Neighbours say Baratov lives alone in the modern, two-storey house, and has little contact with them.
Friends stop by his house regularly, neighbours say, at times lining the street with their own expensive cars.
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.”
A link on a Facebook page that appears to belong to Baratov leads to a Russian-language website that offers web hosting domain services to people in Russia and China.
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.
“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.”