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. Amanda

    OMG... he's a spammer... who is to say that you all wouldn't do the same thing for some cash? Quick and easy cash for those that spend alot fo time on the computer! He's doing the same thing that companies do to you everyday, and those solicitors that come to your front door... so should we kill them all? I think that spam is annoying, but he is not a criminal!

    December 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rwjslilangel

    hes hot!!

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

    This man has wasted billions of hours in lost productivity and has assisted in stealing the most useful wide range communications medium ever invented away from the people. Spamers have a huge cost on society other than the time wasting such as a number of teens have harmed themselves due to depression over embarrassment because spamers forged email to their friends. People have been fired from their jobs as well.

    December 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Snow Star

    this is just sick, im not the first to say this but i will say it. this person is a good guy, i mean this guy is gonna lose his life just because we're tired of clicking a few buttons. damn stupid reason to hang him.

    December 5, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. whos2blame

    His kind of spam wouldn't work if there wouldn't be millions of limb dick people who buy all the performance enhancing drugs and fake rolexes. Sad enough that it took so many years to find him if he is responsible for 30% of spam.

    December 5, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stay out of my computer!!

      I posted this before, but it's worth repeating: He doesn't need to be the one sending the spam to be 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 proclaiming "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 congratulate you. "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." The followup ads ask for even larger sums of money. Those who continue responding to these followup ads don't see the scam, then suffer denial that they're being scammed. Then he sets them up to become another source of spam. These opportunistic dreamers are blinded by the possibilities.

      December 5, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Stay out of my computer!!

    Totally unrelated, but since we've begun discussing the postal service, how about the time I lose every day from people who don't leave a message on my answering machine, but wait until after the beep to hang up? I made my outgoing message include a request to leave a message after the beep for a return call, or please hang up before the beep. My boss thought it was rude and she made me remove it. FML.

    December 5, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John

    Ha. I was wondering why I was getting less spam nowadays.

    December 8, 2010 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Samantha

    You mean i have been checking the mailbox everyday for that shipment of pills for penis enlargement for my husband and they don't work? frick n frackn jimmmy crack dad gum it motha motha, that does it, time to file for divorce!

    December 14, 2010 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. carme

    Gives us his e mail address, so I can send him daily pictures of my dogs, cats and grandchildren

    December 14, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. les

    people say "how can you kill him for just spam" (relative to politcal crooks and mafia-types)...i say "how could he (oleg) have so little regard for me?...why should i be concerned if he spends 48.25 years in prison?...let him pay for his crime!!"

    December 20, 2010 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. cary lundgren

    I bet Obamas campaign people wants to hire him, or they did two years ago!

    December 21, 2010 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. MassiveMarbles

    If the US Government did this, maybe they could diminish or end our deficit problems...Besides, the IRS runs a scam as big as this guy was running.

    If a person's net worth is more than 100 million, only then should taxing be necessary!

    December 25, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tex

    I say he should spend the next 20 years untangling Christmas tree lights.....a fate far worse than death.

    December 28, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
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