On Friday Kim Dotcom, founder of the popular file sharing website MegaUpload.com, was arrested at his mansion while celebrating his 38th birthday. The internet mogul was found in an electronically locked safe room holding a sawed off shotgun.
During the raid in which Dotcom was arrested, authorities seized luxury cars, expensive art pieces, and electronic equipment. In addition, close to $9 million was frozen in various accounts and 18 company domain names were confiscated.
Dotcom is wanted on charges of online piracy, racketeering, and money laundering. The United States is attempting to extradite him and three other employees of the company, who were also arrested Friday and denied bail. They are accused of costing the entertainment industry over $500 million through copyrighted content being shared on MegaUpload.com and the company’s other similar sites that include MegaVideo.com, MegaLive.com, MegaPorn.com, and MegaPix.com.
MegaUpload.com, founded in 2005 and based in Hong Kong, has over 150 million subscribers and draws 50 million visitors per day. The file sharing site, also known as a cyberlocker, gives customers the ability to quickly upload and download files. The sites are intended for sharing files like home movies and work presentations. However, they are commonly used for sharing pirated material.
MegaUpload.com has two levels of membership: basic and premium. The basic membership is free and allows users to download and upload files with a gigabyte limit. Premium members have unlimited usage. It’s been reported that 87 percent of Fortune 500 companies have premium memberships. Ironically, the service is also popular with several music industry celebrities including Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Sean Combs, and Will.i.am.
Dotcom is no stranger to trouble and controversy. In 1988 as a 12 year old, he received a two year probation sentence for computer fraud and handling stolen goods. More recently in 2002, he was charged with insider trading and was placed on probation for 20 months.
“I made mistakes when I was young and I paid the price. Steve Jobs was a hacker and Martha Stuart is doing well after her insider trading case,” he wrote last December in a guest blog post.
The internet entrepreneur, who changed his last name to Dotcom from Schmitz, is reportedly worth over $200 million. He is known for his large size (6′ 7″ and over 300 pounds) and lavish lifestyle. He owns at least 18 luxury cars including a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a pink 1959 Cadillac. Just recently, he paid $500,000 for a fireworks display in Auckland, New Zealand, where he currently resides, and witnessed the show from his private helicopter.