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. john

    Ok great !!! The problem is I still get about 100 spam a day I figured it would have droped to close to 75 since the 4th but it hasn't .. Where has this story changed my life???? Not that my life is any way connected to the delete key on my key board..

    December 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • she

      the only intelligent post here tonight:)

      December 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sweet Lou

    Can we get his email address so we can send him spam? It's only fair.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. A. Nony

    It always amazes me how many comments wish violence on people who have done "wrong". Not that he deserves an award, but he needn't be burned at the stake or ground up into SPAM himself.

    Ladies... Gentlemen... Perhaps we should instead use those torches to read some law books by. Or just go about your day impartially, since knowing this guy's name doesn't alter your life in the slightest.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meredith

      Thank you! Annoying and sometimes vulgar spam may be but promoting capital punishment is a harsh response, methinks.
      Surely it's all tongue-in-cheek? We've not gone completely bonkers have we?
      Personally, I'm astounded he made so much money from the greed, need and outright stupidity of our fellow man. Approximately a half million dollars in roughly six months (if I read correctly-I skimmed) from spamming!

      December 4, 2010 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Oh, you :T

      So you're suggesting that the angry mob with torches also pick up an accelerant?

      December 4, 2010 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. PeteFanortney

    I know for a fact that people in Milwaukee like Spam.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. EM

    At least we know that Nikolaenko doesn't have erectile dysfunction. Good for him.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jorge washingsen

    A computer is timed destruction from the time it leaves the factory,just like an automobile.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GJ

    That still leaves 70% of spam on-going to inboxes and websites daily. Way to go, FBI for catching one guy responsible for 30% but please, get the rest of them! Spam is more of a nuisance than quite a many other things!

    December 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. darts enthusiast

    Yippee ... now I have a new photo for my dart board. I was getting tired of throwing them at Osama Bin Laden.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TJ

    Don't let him cut his hair before he goes to prison. He should be very popular. We may not be able to give him the death penalty but we can at least make his time in prison very unpleasant.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CHRIS

    THE NSA WILL HIRE HIM.....

    December 3, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. f1mktsol

    Well, I'm not noticing any reduction in spam, so what should I say? Good work, guys?

    December 3, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. C-man

    One of the problems with a democracy is we can't punish this guy with what he deserves. He's made us suffer – he should suffer. Ship him off to a Siberian prison for some real hard-time.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dragon

    When the Government finally makes it against the law to send unsolicited e-mails to people, and the other civilized nations of the world do the same, we will STILL not be free from Spam... but it will be a start.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tieko Sports Watch

    Here's what's really amazing: Enough morons actually read the spam and subsequently BOUGHT those bogus Rolexes that the seller could afford to pay this d-bag $2,000,000 for sending the spam, and still make money!! Sadly, just as people always end up getting the government they deserve, I guess we get the internet we deserve as well.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JRH

    I find in beyond the bounds of credibility that any human being smart enough to have an email account would actually give money to someone selling something (anything) via spam messages. You get what you pay for. The "delete" button works for free.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
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