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Behind the mask of Kim Dotcom

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Three years after his first conviction, he had resurfaced as a high-flying venture capitalist. He told reporters his company was worth $200 million and that he was rescuing the struggling online startup company "LetsBuyIt" with an initial cash injection of up to four million euros ($5 million) and a promise of another 50 million euros ($65 million).

Reporters published his bogus story, sending the stock skyrocketing. On the first day, LetsBuyIt leaped from 19 cents to 27 cents a share. The next day, it was up to 77 cents.

He appeared in an online video depicting himself living it up on a superyacht in Monaco, with beautiful women draped on his arms: "Kim Schmitz is a PR man's nightmare and a journalist's dream," wrote the Telegraph.

A German court would hear later that he had pulled a textbook "pump-and-dump" move, borrowing money to buy Letsbuyit shares, and then quickly selling them to those who swallowed his investment story, gaining himself a quick profit of 1.1 million euros ($1.4 million).

But before authorities could catch up with him on the LetsBuyIt scam came the Sept. 11 attacks, and he captured fresh headlines by offering $10 million for the capture of Osama bin Laden. He claimed to have formed Yihat — Young Intelligent Hackers Against Terrorism — to wage cyberwar against banks harboring terrorist money.

That one backfired on him when hacker pranksters calling themselves Fluffy Bunny posted a lewd picture on his website.

Sought by German authorities over the LetsBuyIt scam, he fled to Thailand In January 2002, writing on his website that "A German high-tech fairy tale is to end."

He then posted a troubling message suggesting he would commit suicide on his 28th birthday:

"Enough is Enough. Kim Schmitz will die next Monday. See it on this website live and for free. When the countdown is over, Kim steps into a new world and wants you to see it."

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