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. admin

    Gmail = no spam

    December 5, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. Skinny Bill

    Africa got an spam-like offer from the US to supply AZT for AIDS sufferers. Turned out it wasn't AZT but just a placebo. Reality spam kicks butt on cyber spam any day.

    December 5, 2010 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Spammzor

    Within a year he will have job offers from almost every major anti-virus company.

    December 5, 2010 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. yin tuang

    King of spam? I thought he was lead singer of the Doors.

    December 5, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. CR

    I say we make an example of him and tie him down to one of those giant ant hills. Or just cut off his fingers ...

    December 5, 2010 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. wee willy where will I buy my penis enlargement medication....

    December 5, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ade

    doesnt bother me, i look after my mailbox and as a result havent had spam for years. Lazy people get spam

    December 5, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Stay out of my computer!!

      Lazy people? Really? I get my payroll stub every two weeks from the same person in our accounting department from within the company network. Sometimes our 4th generation spam filter won't let it through while some spam still does get through. I have entered exhaustive white and black lists and I still have to check the spam folder every day for incorrectly routed mail. I've unsubscribed from numerous trade journals I never asked for, many not even in my field, black listed the senders and they still either fail to remove me, or I get put on their monthly subscription invitation list. It may seem legitimate, but I consider it spam. I get obnoxious cold sales calls too, but that's for another blog.

      December 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. GG1000

    Life in prison; no computer access ever again.

    December 5, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sharp

    Pretty dumb to set foot in the USA when the Feds are all over you like a cheap suit.

    December 5, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. Brutus Beefcake

    I hear the National Organization for Women (NOW) is going to organize a huge "FREE OLEG" campaign so he can continue his good work of curing millions of men of erectile dysfunction.

    December 5, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. reagan

    the guy responsible for spam. Atleast a third of it

    December 5, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. AAPLDoc

    Kill the spammer? Yeah... whatever. What about the counterfeiters and other cheats that bought his services? If they paid him seven figures for advertising they were making eight. Where are those arrests?

    Oleg Nikolaenko, if guilty, deserves to be punished. The people that hired this 'hit man' deserve even more.

    December 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tom Psillas

    I tell all my contacts to send me messages on
    That is the only way to stop spam.
    Since nobody wants to pay for email, you deserve to get your inbox filled with spam.
    I strongly believe, we need to deregulaste email. No spam means you pay for email.
    We could take it one step furhter an really screw things up by letting the Postal Service run our email.

    December 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. john

    We need to change the rules to allow DEATH PENALTY in this case.

    December 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. David

    If there really is someone always creating spam, then I have the perfect idea. I think this guy should be FORCED to sit at a computer and counteract ANY and ALL spam that he can handle. The ONLY way this guy should go free is the day he makes a NEVER ENDING block on ALL spam...through the ENTIRE internet. Sounds good, right? I would sure love to get a piece of this guy. He's foreign too, meaning he probably thinks he didn't do anything wrong.

    December 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
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