Man allegedly responsible for a third of your spam e-mail arraigned
December 3rd, 2010
11:09 PM ET

Man allegedly responsible for a third of your spam e-mail arraigned

[Updated at 11:00 p.m.] Oleg Nikolaenko, a Russian man the FBI believes has been responsible for one-third of the spam in your inbox, pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court in Wisconsin.

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[Posted at 10:20 a.m.] A Russian man the FBI believes has been responsible for one-third of the spam you get in your inbox is scheduled to be arraigned in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, court Monday.

According to court documents and FBI affidavits, researchers began tracking down the "Mega-D" spam automated botnet as a prime source of selling counterfeit goods, and the mastermind of it all is Oleg Nikolaenko.

"'Mega-D" was likely the largest botnet in the world, accounting for 32% of all spam," the court documents said. "Security researchers estimated that the botnet was capable of sending ten billion spam email messages a day.”

The documents show the scope of the counterfeit ring and the authorities' attempts to track down Nikolaenko.

A glimpse into how much Nikolaenko's operation may have made can be seen in court documents that allege that he received a payment of  $459,098.47 between June 4 and December 5, 2007, resulting from e-mails for those peddling everything from advertised erectile dysfunction drugs, other counterfeit prescriptions, "herbal remedies" and even fake Rolex watches.

A break in finding the alleged mastermind was one of those watches. The path to Nikolaenko began when a seller of counterfeit Rolexes told authorities after he was arrested that he paid more than $2 million working with spammers to sell his product. He gave them information that resulted in a trail of information that led officials across several continents, to different e-mail addresses and websites and, eventually, back to Nikolaenko.

FBI agents and the Federal Trade Commission had been monitoring him since at least 2007, according to documents. That included two trips to the U.S. last year. And their big nab came when he went to Las Vegas, Nevada, for an auto show. He was arrested on November 4.

Christopher Van Wagner, Nikolaenko's lawyer, could not be reached immediately for comment. But he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that so far, the charges against his client are only accusations.

"We're prepared to present a rigorous defense," he said.

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Filed under: Crime • Russia • Technology • Wisconsin
soundoff (498 Responses)
  1. Fairplay99

    Make him read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica and then give him a 40,000 question test. If he misses one question, repeat the above until he gets it right. 🙂

    December 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. stevensw

    They arrested Nickelodeon? Finally they can stop gooping my television screen!

    December 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. stevensw

    Hang him for being a complete waste of life.

    December 4, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    but it also created jobs in spyware industry?

    December 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 5456110

    I wish I had e-mails that gave me discount offers on Spam... 😦

    December 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Marilyn

    Apparently I'll be the first to say this, but regardless of what he did, that is one hot spammer.

    I'm just saying. 😀 ❤ ❤ ❤

    December 4, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • JW

      I'd hit that.

      December 5, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • DasLeezard

      I'd hit that.... twice.

      December 5, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. Raymond from Austin

    I don't see the Feds going after the US Postal Service for facilitating and getting paid to send the unsolicited letters and junk I receive in my mailbox on a daily basis (including such gems as Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and that other guy that keeps telling me I might have won a new car, 10,000 bucks or some other prize I never registered for).

    December 4, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Danko Ramone

    I can't say I'm "pro-spam," but realistically, I can delete or ignore every bit of it quite easily. I'd much prefer to see physical junk mail come to an end instead.

    December 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rbnlegnd101

      Physical junk mail helps pay for your regular mail service. Bulk mail rates subsidize non-bulk mail. Regular junk mailers pay their way, and provide a benefit to the rest of us. E-mail spammers steal their bandwidth, hijack other people's computers to send their mail, and are generally a drain on the system with no benefits at all.

      The biggest source of profit for the spammer is not the recipient of the spam. Guys like this know that most people filter the spam out, and that very few people would buy drugs or watches or whatever from spam. They are making their money convincing other people that they can get rich by sending spam using their services. Often they are taking money to send out spam, and not even sending the messages, just giving their customer a bogus report showing some insane level of activity. End to end, it's 100% a con job.

      December 13, 2010 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. Floria sigmundi

    He's pretty attractive for a computer nerd

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUJ4bL6O3uw&w=640&h=360]

    December 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Topher

    Is it safe to say the Mafia had a role in this? I think so. NO WAY can one man be held accountable for 1/3 of the spam. Maybe he's the one who pulled the trigger but I am sure many, many people are involved with this. He's the geek in all the movies with a gun pointed to his head while someone is telling him "hurry, work/hack faster".

    December 4, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Blackbeered

    How come, if he's the mastermind, since he's been in jail I've gotten over 96,000 pieces of Spam?

    I suspect the reporting is a wee bit outrageous.

    December 4, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Adam

    Print out all the spam mails he has sent and let him eat all the papers AND WITHIN 1 DAY TIME.

    December 4, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jay Richards

    Cut off his arms and feed him a diet of Redbull and Viagra.

    December 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David

    People who send spam are the lowest and most useless people in society. All they do is send viruses and steal from other peoples' success. They serve no benefit to society and should be ashamed of themselves. I hope this man realizes that his entire life has no value like the spam he sends to other people who work hard.

    December 4, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Margo Zargo

    I wish I had his email address. Boy, would I put him on some every-minute of the day hassle lists.

    December 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
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