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. Stephen

    Suddenly, I'm a strong supporter of the death penalty. Can we hang this guy?

    December 3, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • anon


      December 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      I say we string him up by his balls, then let anybody who wants to throw a can of the actual food product at him

      December 3, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • JulioF

      This is a classic pay-per-view opportunity!

      I bid $50 to have a nail driven into the palm of his right hand. You bid $25 to have a fingernail ripped off. Etc... Would raise lotsa money for charity!

      December 4, 2010 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Richard Allen

    thank to get the other 5 million spammers on the planet...

    December 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Darkguardian1314

    He should be sentence to watching nothing but TV commericals for each spam he sends.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wooz

      He should share a cell with Kevin Trudeau for the rest of his life.

      December 3, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washingsen

      Trudeau is like having a nail in your shoe about 4 am in the morning.

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

    I am usually against capital punishment, but...

    December 3, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Darkguardian1314

    He should be sentenced to watch TV commercials for each spam he sent.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Umbra1980

      lol – word!

      December 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. edward

    Doesn't matter someone else will just pick up where he left off.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Might as well leave all the thieves and murderers out there then, because someone else will just pick up. Or let the banks do whatever they want as well. But we all saw what happens when you let things go without regulating ... there's always someone else. That's not a reason to do nothing.

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

    Replace "arraigned" with "hanged", and we have a winner.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      You'd hang someone for fraud and theft? Where do you live – China? Saudi Arabia? Russia? Ok then.

      December 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • 314swfl413

      Sarah, I'd hang you for fraud and/or theft.

      December 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • anon

      VVV look at the picture sarah..... do you think he HAS a life to begin with?

      December 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LouieD

    What's his e-mail address? Fair is fair, right?

    December 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fortis

    The guy's name, Oleg Nikolaenko, does not make him Russian as CNN proclaims. It sounds as a typical Ukrainian name, and God forbid you tell Ukrainian that he is Russian! Also, there is such thing as immigration. For example, another 'Russian', Vladimir Zvorykin, invented modern television, while working for RCA, and Igor Sikorsky designed most of American helicopters. However, if this guy is really Russian national, the best punishment to him would be to make him do his time in Russian jail. The worst American prison is a luxury resort comparing to the best Russian one.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      His name is Олег Николаенко. He is from Moscow. Do you not think that the FBI might know where he is from after having tracked him for years? And what's with all the Russian inventor trivia? Does that have anything to do with this news story?

      December 4, 2010 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Umbra1980

    Execute him... Or better – lock him in cell with a monitor where only thing you can read is spam and than he will kill himself.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. let it be known

    While this guy did however use the botnet to send out the emails...i think the blame should fall on those who were sooo stupid enough to buy stuff. I mean come didn't realize it was spam by the spelling? I say you should go to jail right along with him then because you was stupid enough to click and give away your money. Instead of throwing away your money how about giving it to me?

    December 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washingsen

      I think bill Gates shares some of the blame.The Russian would not have gotten that many spams out with Morse Code.

      December 3, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Of course, we're also going to have to lock up Al Gore for inventing the internet in the first place.

      December 4, 2010 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. jorge washingsen

    You can run but you can't hide. We don't mean you Osama.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jorge washingsen

    What is the difference logging in to CNN and ads from your hometown pop up?

    December 3, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Luckily we're working on a new technology to help with that. We plan to call it "Pop-up blocker".

      December 4, 2010 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. jorge washingsen

    Even death can not stop them.

    December 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sweet Lou

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

    December 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
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