Teens tracking Russian oligarchs are now targeting their luxury yachts

A college student in Florida who got attention for tracking the private planes of the Tesla Inc. CEO. Elon Musk and Russian oligarchs on a new Twitter target: luxury yachts for the Russian elite.

Created by 19-year-old Jack Sweeney Tweet embed On Saturday, a Twitter bot monitors and posts his whereabouts Russian super-rich. As of Sunday afternoon, the account had more than 9,300 followers.

“I kept getting more and more people in my direct messages saying, ‘Can you do yachting too? I did it,” Mr. Sweeney said in an interview on Sunday.

His RussiaYachts account tracks the movements of 23 luxury boats, some owned by the same Russian billionaires that Mr. Sweeney is tracking in mid-air in Tweet embed.

As Mr. Sweeney created Tweet embedwhich tracks aircraft likely to be used by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Sweeney, a freshman at the University of Central Florida, started these two accounts on February 26, two days later Russia invaded Ukraine. His account on RUOligarchJets has amassed nearly 395,000 followers as of Sunday, while drones tracking bots linked to Mr. Putin have more than 102,000 followers.

Mr. Sweeney’s jet-tracking robots rely on public data from flying transponders that record longitude, latitude and altitude and calculate location based on an algorithm he created in 2020.

For yachts, Mr. Sweeney relies on similar data that comes from onboard safety devices that transmit and monitor the locations of large vessels.

Currently, it updates its tracker manually every time the data changes. He said that for full access to the AIS database that collects information, Mr. Sweeney will have to pay for it.

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“I’m not really sure about the cost, because there are different options,” he said. “I’m doing it manually, for now, so I can turn it on automatically.”

There is one simpler thing, Mr. Sweeney said, about tracking yachts over airplanes: It is much easier to tell which few own which boat.

Since the start of the war, many Russian oligarchs It was placed on the sanctions list By the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and other countries, with yachts, trophy real estate and other trinkets subject to freezing and other restrictions. Western governments say these few have benefited from close ties with Putin. The scrutiny has transformed a group of often obscure officials and businessmen into some of the world’s most followed individuals.

the authorities They seized a number of luxury yachts and propertiesy owned by some billionaires in Russia who are subject to sanctions.

Mr. Sweeney first rose to prominence in early February with his bot account Tweet embedwhich tracks and publishes the movements of a private plane believed to belong to Mr. Musk of Tesla.

He said Mr. Musk had asked him in private messages to delete the account, citing personal security concerns. Mr. Sweeney replied that he would take the ElonJet for a new Tesla Model 3. Mr. Sweeney said he had not heard back from Mr. Musk.

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