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.


[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. JAI

    A fit punishment could be ten years in prison, with nothing to eat but SPAM, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No water either... just that jiggly SPAM juice stuff. When his time is up, ask him if he learned anything. If he says no, then shove him back in the cell for another 10 years of Spam-eating fun.

    Seriously though, I don't mean to degrade the SPAM food makers. I actually like it once every few years. E-mail Spammers though... argh... those people DESERVE to eat SPAM every day!

    December 3, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. flyfysher

    It will be difficult for Nikolaenko's attorney to present his client in a favorable light. My guess is that the jurors will already be prejudiced against who is allegedly responsible for sending spam to them. I have to believe we all have, at one time or another, wanted to meet the person who has sent us spam to make it known to them how much we detest their anonymous missives. Well now the jurors will get their opportunity to do just that against the accused and find criminal liability against him for having allegedly done so.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Zosimoff

    Isn't he just a capitlaist? I commend him for his ingenuity. He made a fortune for doing very little work. If anybody was stupid enough to buy any of the fake goods he or his clients were pushing, it serves them right! Stop being idiots, get a spam filter, and stop whining when someone takes advantage of your stupidity and greed.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      Astute and succinct observation. Although he preyed and profited upon the human weaknesses flaws of many, he could be as useful, if his energys were turned, to combating it as well.

      December 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Samuel

    Wisconsin has the death penalty right? 🙂

    December 3, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alverant

    So where are all the pro-business conservatives whining about government interference and how companies have the right to do anything to make a buck? Why aren't they calling the can-spam act socialist and unnecessary regulation of free-enterprise? Why, because this is exactly why pure capitalism fails. We have a business which makes money by harassment.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pupu

    I feel the death penalty is more than appropriate in this case.

    December 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. B Ologna

    Ok so the death penalty isn't possible, how about we just beat him stupid daily for oh..say 10 years or so? SPAM LOL good one.......

    December 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ed Hagen

    I hope this piece of *** gets thrown in prison for life, gets put in a cell with someone that likes boys, and as a welcome gift receives a jar of vaseline with sand in it.

    December 3, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sh-OH

    This is personnal. I feel like someone I don't want is coming into my house. Maybe he can be held in a cave – no wifi, no electric. Of course this only applies if he is found guilty

    December 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. kado

    Do NOT offer this peice of garbage a plea deal. Convict him and give him at least ten years where he will have no access whatever to a computer.

    December 3, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. scrib1010

    FBI, smack him upside the head one time for me. Thanks!

    December 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Quincy9

    I'd like to see him sentenced to a boot to the crotch from everyone who's ever received spam from him. Actually, make that both boots per person.

    December 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dewlapski

    He should be put on the payroll of the CIA's IT department. He could do wonders for harassing our enemies.

    December 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lee

    I hate Spam..I wonder if he made any money off of it

    December 3, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    Hang him by his toes!!

    December 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
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