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Virtualsim.net Open Statement

about extrajudical persecution, blackmailing, threats,
damage and hacking attempts by the authorities of Ukraine

Russian version here »»

Virtualsim.net Open Statement about extrajudical persecution, blackmailing, threats, damage and hacking attempts by the authorities of Ukraine

Video of the first Ukrainian police invasion, July, 2020th
Ukrainian mass media on the incident
About us

We are the Internet service Virtualsim.net, providing phone numbers for the registration of web services, which require SMS verifications. Service was found in 2015 in Ukraine. It is targeted for Internet users who care about their privacy, in particular, for exercising their right to freedom of speech and private life protection in states not ruled by law or having free speech suppression. We also serve internet-marketing entrepreneurs who need mass accounts registrations.

Virtualsim.net allows client to get SMS code for signing up or signing in to their accounts in social networks and other web services without disclosing their active phone number. The activity of client inside the web service can not be monitored by the service by definition, therefore, Virtualsim.net doesn't bear any responsibilty for such an activity.

Information about Virtualsim.net clients is considered as confidential, therefore it can not be disclosed in any way but by an official court order. However, if this order contradicts to general human rights such as freedom of speech and related to censorship, request will be ignored. Censorship is banned by The Constitution of Ukraine, as well as by Constitutions of many other countries.

The first incident

Working for five years without any legal claims to our clients, we have faced the first one in July, 2020. That was the first case of power abuse and extrajudical persecution from the authorities of Ukraine, specifically, The Department of Internal Security (DVB) of The National Police of Ukraine. In other words, police was exercising their authority not in a legal way, acting like gangsters. One of our clients was considered by police as a person who is related to an arson of a room in a police building on June, 10th, 2020. Police has started a criminal case on this incident of arson, registered No.12020100060002061 (Unified Registry of Pre-trial Investigations, ERDR) from June, 10th, 2020, by Pecherskiy Court of Kyiv(Kiev) city. Article 194.2 of The Criminal Code of Ukraine, "Deliberate destruction of someone else's property", with jail term from 3 to 10 years. The suspect was somehow identified as Telegram user, who has registered the account using our service.


Here is the plot of the criminal case: unknown leftist anarchists took responsibility for this arson. They explained their action as a protest against police impunity and brutality in Ukraine. Specifically, that was the reaction on two publicly resonant incidents: two policeman has raped apprehended woman in the police station of city of Kagalyk, and two policeman who have killed 5 years old boy, were released from arrest. The shooting was accidental while cops were drinking alcohol and shooting cans with rifle in the public yard near their apartments building. We would like not to comment such ways of protest, leaving it on protesters' consciousness. No people were harmed, furniture and some papers burnt, then restored from backups.
Police eagerly wants to find the arsonists, but such a spicy bits of scandal as criminals' motivation make them not to turn an additional attention to this incident in public.

It might be hard to find out the information on this incident in English media, though you can use Google translate to look at these Russian language links: graty.me and sud.ua

Search and unjustified excessive Virtualsim.net equipment seizure

Let's return to our service.
The Pechersky Court of Kyiv city (judge Batrin O.V., by petition of investigator of Investigations department of Pechersky UP GUIP of Kyiv city, sr.leuthenant Kol'chik Anastasiya Sergeevna, approved by prosecutor Mrachko Ya.I. of Kyiv city prosecutor's office No.6) on July 9th, 2020 has issued search warrant ("ukhvala") at the place where SIM card was geolocated. It was intended to apprehend the SIM card owner because he was considered the suspect. The SIM card, in fact, was never kept by the Telegram account owner, it was located at our facility in Lviv region and operated by our employee. About 10 representatives of the Department of Internal Security has travelled from Kyiv to Lviv (550 km) to execute this warrant.

Our service operator has found and passed the SIM card to police. He also explained all the specifics of service work in details and demonstrated how does he work through web site panel to deliver SMS to clients. There also were a lot of SIM cards, smartphones, modems, hubs and laptops. Everything clearly indicated that there is a facility of a web-service. The warrant prescribed the police to "make copies" of hard drives and necessary information carriers, do not seize.

However, all the equipment - smartphones, modems, hubs, laptops, hard drives of desktop computer, and a lot of SIM cards which belong to our clients - were seized without any necessity to do this.

SIM cards' further location and destiny is unknown, hence, the privacy of our users, which is protected by laws as well as private property, was breached without any legal reasons. It's also unclear what have happened to our clients' payment services accounts (the ability to keep SIM cards for payment systems remotely and have it accessible at any time is another benefit of our service)

As a result, the ability to continue work at this facility became impossible, the damage of several thousands US Dollars was incurred. Besides, our operator has lost his job, because there was nothing to work with. All these actions were done without any legal reason.

Blackmailing for extrajudical information disclosure and hacking attempts

During the following month, police haven't bothered themselves with sending us an official court order for information disclosure (besides the SIM card, we have some extra data left by user, like tickets, payments roaster etc).

Instead of legal inquiry, police has "worked" with our ex-operator to make him "cooperative" for "reaching" the Virtualsim.net owners. At the same time, one of the service owners' SIM card, which is located outside the Ukraine, was hijacked in an attempt to hack into his personal Facebook page. They got password reset SMS without having access to the SIM card. It was one of the personal numbers, which were taken with seized phone of our operator. The Facebook password was reset from Kyiv, Ukraine. Fortunatelly, hacking was unsuccessful. We have serious doubts that there was a court order for this hack. We also have noticed that site was increasingly scanned for security breaches. Then, hosting provider refused to host our web site by reasons unknown. As this hoster has business in Ukraine too, it is possible that it was threathened with some unlawful actions of the police (but we do not know this for sure, just a very strange coincidence). Our Telegram and support service started to get some meaningless messages like "we have modems [hint to recently seized ones] and want to work for you", or "I was told to pay you, tell me the card number" etc

In a month, police eventually decided to contact site owners directly and demanded to disclose the information. We have received morphed voice record, where was said that case will be re-classified as "murder attempt" (I remind you, the arson was committed at night by throwing something into an empty room), and we will be considered as accomplices of this crime. Following such logic, Pavel Durov, Telegram founder, as well as mobile operator Vodafone Ukraine, should also be considered as accomplices. They are in much stronger degree - they provide communications, not Virtualsim.net. Police ignored this remark. Communication with police was anonymous, but arranged before through trusted third party, therefore, it is absolutely true that we communicated with people who really investigate the case.

Meanwhile, our operator, who was added to the criminal case as a witness, was in Ukraine, and we were afraid for his life, health and freedom. In fact, not being able to leave the country, he was virtually a hostage, and everything could happen to him, including making him the main arsonist. We have objected the data disclosure without court order, though police didn't hear us. Eventually, we have decided to make the disclosure. Taking into account the high probability of back-date order, and the fact that arson action is not about freedom of speech. But the main reason was the blackmailing and worries about our colleague, which is important. We were told "thank you" and left alone.

The dubious investigation

At the same time we came up with an idea that the Telegram user who purchased our phone number might not be an arsonist at all. In conversation with an anonymous policeman we have noticed an intent to "catch anarchists", no matter whom. As police was trying to avoid to make an official query to our service, as well as to web site hoster, to which the suspect they believe was related to, and, finally, to the Telegram. Telegram is pretty anonymous, but arson could be considered quite significant crime to get data disclosed.

More question raises the relation of the suspect to web-site bo-ak.org ("Boets Anarhist"). Site is down now and moved to the Darknet after a massive DDoS attack (we believe it was conducted not without help of Ukrainian authorities). Initially we had no idea what is "bo-ak", the nickname of our client, because we haven't visited web-sites of such kind.

The site is a leftist anarchists newsline, it publishes news about what happens on leftist anarchists scene. There are also some advices on privacy, communications with police, manifestos and ideological articles. This site was the first published the news about the arson, as they claim, they got information via email from some unknown anachists group Daredevils ("Smel'chaki" in Russian).

Probably, police has not enough facts to initiate a court order on data disclosure. It is possible that they were trying to catch any random "anarchist" and use their illegal practices make him talk against someone else, to repeat the procedure with another person, or even confess himself. Therefore, our client could be just an Internet journalist, who just published the news he got by email.

First blackmailing attempt against us was successful, we have disclosed data we had. But this is just the beginning of the story.

Eventually, we have assumed that incident is over, we will survive the damage incurred, police got all the disclosure they wanted, the official inquiry for disclosure will be sent back-dated, because they promised us to issue some "court decisions".

Blackmailing, part two

Three months passed. In the beginning of November we've got another request for a contact. Okay. The conversation has started in a manner of blackmailing: we know your names (some names were spelled which they believe are our real names), we know approximately where are you and the borders is not a problem for us. We said that we are glad about their investigative abilities, but we have disclosed what they were demanded and have no more reason for further contacts. But this statement was ignored.

We also got an answer that we HAVE NO any procedural status in this criminal case, in other words, we have no any legal claims from the police at all. Our interlocutor was clear about we are the web-service and we have done everything they could ask from us, officially or unofficially.

The problem was in police and cyberpolice work - they haven't succeeded in utilization of our data.

Being unable to work with the data, they invented the new idea - service owner should write client a letter and try to lure him out by offering some discounted or even free service. For this work, we will be awarded by... we will not be persecuted for... There is nothing to persecute us for, but if we refuse, police will fabricate some case.

As I believe, such an offer (I mean luring out the client, not blackmailing) can not be ordered to a web-service even by court. But it was made informally. We replied, that our service is always ready to co-operate with law enforcement agencies by following court orders for data disclosure, but if and only it will be made in a legal way. They promised us "court decisions" and repeated their claim of luring out the client.

Service owner has rejected this claim. Besides our service policies and dubious legal base of such an action, there were common sense reasons. When client was deleted, he got a letter that his account was terminated because of a political criminal case against one of our clients. Therefore, he already knows that he might be this one and should be aware. It would be considered very suspicious to make an offer after the service termination. Then, we had no direct contacts with the client and his account was deleted - previously we had communicated through the tickets on site. And, finally, such people use TOR and other anonymity tools, therefore, email headers from the reply will give nothing.

The anonymous policeman told that we should await for the new "court decisions" soon, and was replied by us that their behaviour looks like terroristic and blackmailing. It is very scary to live in a state and deal with authorities of this state, when they tell you "do as I said no matter the laws are and I will not fabricate any case against you".

Meanwhile, the court has made a decision (we have no documents on this) to arrest our equipment and SIM cards, which were seized before. The decision was made despite they got all the explanation and ensured themselves that we are not the suspects but service providers who sold service to the third party. It is illogical to add things as evidences when these things have no relation to the case (except a couple of SIM cards). But The Pecherskiy Court of Kyiv city has its own logic.

Police revenge for our refusal to their dubious illegal request

Finally, on November, 20th, 2020, we have got message from the police. They quoted our reply "send us court decisions on information disclosure as it practiced in civilized countries". The answer was like "you wanted to get court decisions - you will have the possibility to acquaint with several of them today. If you won't change your mind on refusal [to write a letter to lure out the client], we will continue to act against you in the same way".

Good. Finally, they will send us the court order for information disclosure, back dated, and we have done everything right. But "decisions" were completely of another kind.

Really, they were lying about "changing your mind". At the same time, a group of police officers from The Department of Internal Security was already in the city of Ternopil, 420 km from Kyiv. They travelled there from Kyiv. In Ternopil, we had another facility with one employeed operator. His last words an hour later were "they came with a search warrant, say greetings to you from Kyiv, please give them everything they want, I don't want to have troubles". As for the moment of writing this text, we have no information about his location and state.

Small official company which provides leasing of SIM banks and gateways has also got a search warrant. They were keeping silence, though we have prepaid facilities there and some amount of SIM cards. Presumably, the company was threatened by police not to serve the numbers; later we have figured out that their work had been disrupted or even destroyed by police.

The most of Virtualsim.net clients have lost access to leased SIM cards, as we have lost access. All the property of Virtualsim.net in Ukraine was seized by police, making it impossible to continue service functioning.

I would like to stress again - we have no any legal procedural status, we are not suspects or witnesses or whatever. We haven't tresspassed any law and, therefore, were not accused in any thing. But we have got a gang of bandits, who represent the state, and the state which has bandits at its service.

If you publish this, we will make things worse

After we have warned police that they pushed too far and we will appeal to the public, they became nervous and passed us a couple of threats. First is to put us on the international wanted list (remember, we haven't any claims from law even in Ukraine?) and, indirectly and vaguely hinted that our families may experience some troubles. Then they told us again to write the letter to lure out the client. Otherwise they will do things for us much worse.

While we are outside Ukraine and haven't tresspassed any laws, we may not be worry about our security. However, we are concerned about our friends and colleagues, who are now hostages of state terrorists, represented as the authorities of Ukraine. Being in Ukraine mean that they will be urged to do as they were told to do, otherwise they will have troubles. Despite we are law-abiding citizens, from now on we will not be able to return to our home country, because there is real threat to our lives, health and freedom. Probability of punishment for bandits from Ukrainian Police Department of Internal Security is near zero. Ironically, this department is the only place in Ukraine where you can complain against the unlawful police actions. It was created, in particular, to persecute policemen who break the law.

Eventually, we have ceased talks with police and listening to their claims, because we don't want to be the bandits as they are, doing what they would like us to do. We are free people, who don't like terrorists, who order to do what they claim to avoid reprisal.

We look at things realistically and have no expectation that police bandits will be punished, damage will be recovered, even in an verbal apologies.

But the publicity may restrain the impunity of presumptouous lawless blackmailers empowered with police and court authority. Or it may open eyes for those who still haven't understood what kind of country Ukraine is.

It is also a warning to those who may happen in our place because of their intents to make an Internet business in the state of Ukraine. We have read a lot of news about miners and other Internet entrepreneurs, robbed by Ukrainian Police and State Security Service, along with charging them with an absurd accusations. And no news about police got punished for this. We read this and thought - this is not about us, this is somewhere far away, it happens sometimes but everything is not so bad in general. Now it is about us, it is right here and it is so bad as it is. For you, our reader, it is just a news... Today. And what about tomorrow?

Thank you for your time and attention!
Respectfully yours, Virtualsim.net service owners.

P.S. Unfortunatelly, the service has very limited capabilities now. But as many people find it useful, it will not be closed. On the contrary, it will be restored, extended and placed in some friendly jurisdiction. Our web-site currently is under the jurisdiction of Iceland, which considered as a country with high privacy standards.
We strongly apologize for all the inconvenience caused by these events. We really supposed that Ukraine is better than it is, and such a lawlessness and disrespect to citizens' civic rights may not happen. Okay, maybe a little, but not in a such scale. Unfortunatelly, we were wrong.

P.P.S. Dear clients! Please take into your consideration that your privacy inviolability, which was expressed in using our confidential SIM cards, was seized by the police of Ukraine with no legal reasons and with no accusations against you. Please, take the necessary precaution measures, as you have already understood what kind of organization the Ukrainian police is.

Contacts for the press:
Email1: support at virtualsim.net
Email2: virtualsim.net at protonmail.com
Telegram @virtualsim