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. dwighthuth

    I doubt that he is the mastermind but merely a simple pawn in the wordly plot. The real culprit is probably a little boy or girl in a small country somewhere that has come across a notebook with wifi available to them because the notebook was part of a coporate package that got lost "along the way" where each of the accounts are automatically renewed each month without the corporation even bothering asking who is using the account.

    December 4, 2010 at 6:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. voice is power

    Out of all these comments there were few actual educated responses.. Think.. Let's say this guys really not guilty??, but is supposably guilty after his trial, now remember hypothetically speaking, you uneducated fisherman fishin in the wrong pond(majority of population) because actuall somebodys wouldn't waste time to comment on something irrevelant,therefor makin theses comments pointless and silent

    December 4, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nancy DWH

    I'm so sick of the Russians and their crimes. If is he found guilty, he should be sent back to Russia...or better the woods of Finland. The Finns kicked the for Soviet Union's butt during the Winter War of 1939..yeah, that's it..kick this jerk's butt too. What a disgrace he is to the spirit of the Tzar/Czar.

    December 4, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Nancy DWH

      That should be "former Soviet Union's butt" not "for Soviet Union's butt"

      December 4, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  4. JudyB

    The guy is a criminal and should I hope go to jail for a long time. Minimum 45 years and no computer, no paper, not telephone, no tv, just him and the 4 walls. I hate spam of any kind and wasted many, many hours, and days cleaning out my computer so I have no sympathy for him at all.

    December 4, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. elbiee

    I'd do him.

    December 4, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  6. bear lover

    Hang him! Spam and spyware has made my computing experience crappy for the last 13 years! I've always said, "If they ever catch who's behind this insidious, relentless, shady spam, they should hang him. And now they got him!

    December 4, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • SHOBiz

      Nah, put in a post office sorting mail by hand for the rest of his life.

      December 4, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      I agree, 1 count per item of spam, no matter you talley it up, the fraud, the stolen bandwidth, he has perpertrated a huge set of crimes, it they convict him, he should meet with an accident, like the guard accidently drops his gun, discharging into the face to the spammer.

      December 4, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Someone will always fill the void left by the arrest of a spammer/scammer. Don't arrest. Tell the world where they and their family lives. Let TRUE justice be served.

      December 4, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Godfadda

      The world would rather a man dead than click the delete key a few times? The inconvenience he's caused you is not worth his life. It's sickening to hold such a small regard for human life.

      December 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Piper

      it seems he is being arrested not for spamming but the content of the spam (counterfeiting)

      December 4, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • backwards if we can catch those other two guys...

      December 4, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      try linux for the spyware problem and install a spam filter for the spam.should help big time.

      December 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • bo

      But that doesn't stop the spam from being sent, it only hides it from the recipient's eye's.

      December 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doofus

      Don't be an idiot with your personal information and you won't receive spam.

      December 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnb

      They should use him for medical experimentation.

      December 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • aua101

      While we're at lets shoot red light runners

      December 4, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • elOteadro

      bear lover, its taken you 13 years to learn to detect and avoid spam?
      bubba, you have greater problems.
      BTW they exagerate with the one third figure. I'm sure the kid is sharp but there are gazillion e-mails traveling around the world daily – either way the guys doing the other 68% will just take up the slack.
      Besides it does create jobs.
      Nikolaenko is just the tip of the iceberg – there are code writers, graphics artists, and even anti spam programmers all being employed by this industry.
      Beside, thep pop up commercials that pop up in the middle of your page are more annoying.

      December 5, 2010 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • twx

      Couldnt agree with you more GODFATHA he'a a spammer not a criminal.

      December 5, 2010 at 4:33 am | Report abuse |
    • youwishyoucandothat

      I bet you wish you can do that!!!

      December 5, 2010 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Remember that the Nobel Prize for Literature went to the Nigerian spammer who wrote all those letters requesting help to launder $23 MILLION.

      December 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Send him to Iran, they will throw stones at him

      December 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xyon the greatest

      @shobiz that would be one of the worst pinshements ever

      December 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnDoe

      it's only a matter of time before this guy joins the FBI !

      December 5, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burgermeister Meisterburger

      No toys for this numbskull !!! humph

      December 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sand

      sad truth is he'll probably be offered a job with the CIA or the FBI...but I agree he should he terminated. Looks like a freckin loser. All that money and he can't afford a hair cut?

      December 9, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frechy

      No, he should not meet with an accident...he should meet Bubba, who's doing 20-40 for aggravated sodomy!

      December 13, 2010 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Dale Moore

      I could not agree with you more, Spam destroys the computer experience.

      December 31, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rangel

    No, this man should be censured.

    December 4, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • John Conyers


      December 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bill Clinton

    That depends on what you mean by spam.

    December 4, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Love it!!

      "I did not have computer-based relations with those people..."
      finally...someone with some intelligence!

      December 5, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JoJo

    Off with his head!!! Psychopath!!!

    December 4, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • elbiee

      You're suggesting the medieval Guillotine, and he is a psychopath?

      December 4, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. Richard L

    Capital punishment is certain an option – especially if you believe in deterrence.

    December 4, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Steven Hawkins

    He looks familiar.......

    December 4, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. Long

    Very few of you seem to get this, it wasn't just for the spam that he's being charged for. He sent out malicious computer programs that would automatically make your pc do what he wants. In this case it was sending out emails for erectile dysfunction. In others it was denial of service attacks against companies that would scan your pc and remove these spyware programs.

    December 4, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. thegriz

    just think about all the time that is spent clearing in boxes of all the spam that people receive.

    December 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. fu9l

    its not the spamm there going to do anything about who cares its legal however using a botnet well lets just say you have to infect peoples computers each bot in a botnet is someone elses connection he is using to do this now infecting someones computer and using there connection without there permission this is illegal an boy howdy wouldnt want to be in his shoes i can see em doing at least 10 years for this since a small bot net about 50 thousand got someone i know 3 years so you know this guy is doomed glad they caught him i hate botnets try using proxies instead of stealing from others

    December 4, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabe

      You're a fantastic writer. Please post more of your thoughts.

      December 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabe 2

      Yes...!! Please post more.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sally

    I've been getting spam to help my girlfriend be happier and grow my d**K. I don't have either of those things, and if I did, I wouldn't need help from this guy. Someone must buy from those things or why would they be so prolific?

    December 4, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stay out of my computer!!

      He doesn't need to be the one sending the spam, but he's RESPONSIBLE for the spam being sent. Few people would buy the pharmaceuticals or grow-your-dick pills we get offered hourly. What he's selling, and people are buying, are the ads exclaiming "I made $$$$$ in just one month! Send me just $$ and I'll show you how." Send him your money and you're on his hook. He'll proudly tell you "Congratulation! You're on your way to untold riches. All you need to do is follow my proven method sending out my professional ads. Now, just send me $$$ for my massive eMail list customized just for you and watch the money start rolling in." He's looking for the people that respond to his followup ads, because they're the people that can't recognize they've been hornswaggled and he sets them up to become the source of spam. These opportunistic dreamers just need to wake up and realize they're being scammed and made into spammers. I'll bet they feel the same about spam as the rest of us and have little clue they're involved. Seriously, how many of you bloggers suggesting he be put to death have at least thought about answering an advertisement like that? I know many of my kid's high school friends have been tempted.

      December 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
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