One of Australia's most wanted men accidentally got hundreds of criminals arrested around the world
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Featured Image Credit: NSW Police/Australian Federal Police
A man who is among the most wanted people in Australia unwittingly helped the FBI find out vital information on criminals that may land many with lengthy prison sentences.
In theory, the app was supposed to allow people – largely criminals – to communicate with each other without getting caught, which must have sounded like a pretty sweet deal to those with something to hide.
However, in reality it was controlled and monitored by the FBI, allowing them to garner information about hundreds of criminals.
Ayik, who is rumoured to be a big player in the drugs trade himself, was identified as a key figure to get the app out into the underworld, and he was given access by an undercover agent that managed to get close to him.
Then, he did the work for them, passing on the info to other associates.
Since the FBI and Australian Federal Police revealed what they'd been up to, more than 1,000 people have been arrested globally based on information obtained from the app.
An investigator told the Australian Telegraph: "[Ayik] was identified because of his standing within the underworld.
"He was a primary target as someone who was trusted and was going to be able to successfully distribute this platform."
Ayik has gone to ground in recent times, but is believed to still be in Turkey, where he had been living for several years.
Authorities have suggested he come forward for his own safety and protection.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said: "Given the threat he faces, he's best off handing himself into us as soon as he can.”
Ayik is believed to have continued his alleged criminal activities since leaving Australia and has been the subject of investigation by the media for his lavish lifestyle and wealth.
Since leaving the country, he is believed to have married a Dutch woman and had two children, now living under the name Hakan Reis.
Undercover cops managed to get a handset with the AN0M app into Ayik’s hands, using him as a go-between into the criminal world.
The app worked through 12,000 encrypted devices circulated on the black market with the app loaded onto them, requiring an existing user to provide a code in order to give it a mask of trust and security.
In truth, commissioner Kershaw said: "We have been in the back pockets of organised crime.”
Whilst Ayik hasn’t been arrested yet, other criminals who have used the software will now know that he’s ‘put them in this type of situation, exposed them to this’, senior police officials have said.
Australian Federal Police Superintendent Jared Taggart said: "If you look at Ayik and his involvement, essentially he's almost like the prime sponsor of ANOM among the criminal cartels and the criminal milieu.
"These devices exist almost everywhere … it's like a family tree, you could probably trace almost all devices back to him.''