The file-sharing and anti-piracy world is full of interesting characters, most of whom remain hidden in the shadows. Some individuals are just too large to be contained though, and are either involuntarily thrust into the media spotlight by force or become deliberately high-profile by design.
While many people will be familiar with Pirate Bay founders Gottfrid and Fredrik due to them being featured in countless articles, the pair tend to shy away from too much direct publicity. The same cannot be said of Peter Sunde who rarely misses an opportunity to be in the spotlight, and to great effect it must be said.
The believed owner of MegaUpload, however, makes Peter Sunde look like a shrinking violet.
Kim ‘Kimble’ Schmitz is a quite unbelievable character. Born in 1974 in Germany, he grew to become a computer hacker, successful businessman and convicted criminal. In 1998 Schmitz received two years’ probation for hacking into corporate networks and abusing telephone services but the draw of big money was just around the corner.
In 2001 Schmitz pulled off a huge stock market bluff which netted him a small fortune. After buying shares worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in the almost bankrupt LetsBuyIt.com, he announced that he would invest 50 million euros in the company, but in reality he didn’t have the money. His declaration led to the biggest single-day rise on the German stock market which allowed Schmitz to sell his shares and pocket $1.5 million profit. He was arrested for insider-trading in 2002, sentenced to a term of 20 months and given a 100,000 euro fine.
Also in 2001, one of Schmitz’s companies loaned another one 280,000 euros and conveniently both went bust shortly after. Schmitz later pleaded guilty to embezzlement and received another two years probation.
A master of the PR stunt, Schmitz has previously faked his own suicide and also offered a $10 million reward for the capture of Osama Bin Laden. He also claimed to own a fleet of jets but apparently the planes he was photographed with belonged to other people.
A self-confessed car-nut, Schmitz entered the Gumball 3000 rally many times and actually came first in 2001, but his appearances in this event brought even more controversy. According to YouTube videos here and here, Schmitz drove at 240 km/h on a public road in Belgium, ignored stop signs and drove in cycle lanes where one of his friends hit a pedestrian. In another clip he’s seen admitting to bribing the police and deliberately nudging a rival’s Porsche with his Mercedes.
But claims that he also did the private jet ‘trick’ mentioned above when photographed with, allegedly, other peoples’ cars, may have been a little off the mark.
According to a recent report from New Zealand, Schmitz is currently under investigation for using multiple names to register three luxury cars including a Rolls-Royce Phantom convertible. The cars are adorned with personal plates – GOD, WANTED and GUILTY.
The vehicles are registered to an address in Coatesville, New Zealand, which turns out to be a very special venue indeed – Schmitz’s newly-acquired mansion and the country’s most expensive house, a snip at just over $20 million USD.
The mega-money has clearly continued to roll in, with the addition of porn site Megarotic and the site most readers will be familiar with, MegaUpload. Although Schmitz’s connection to these projects has been denied in the past, he was the person who registered the site’s domain name in 2005 and there are many other links which are difficult to simply brush off.
MegaUpload has become more and more successful in recent times and its growing popularity make it a popular choice with those looking for an alternative to RapidShare. Much of MegaUpload’s system appears to be running from host LeaseWeb in The Netherlands and Carpathia Hosting in the US. In both locations they have many hundreds of IP addresses and servers.
While RapidShare’s huge growth has seen the company become the target for recent legal action, according to information received by TorrentFreak it appears that an apparent expansion of MegaUpload hasn’t gone unnoticed either. French anti-piracy group ALPA has been cranking up the pressure on LeaseWeb in what is being described as a “pre-litigation period”.
If the future of MegaUpload and Kim Schmitz is anywhere as colorful as the past, there will be yet more amazing stories to come.