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Russia pursuing its first spammer criminal case?

Russia has apparently launched what may be its first criminal case against a spammer, according to a leading Russian gialy newpaper. Kommersant reports that Russian authorities have raided the home of Igor Gusev, who is the general director of a company called Despmedia, a partner company of Glavmed.com. Gusev is accused of operating a spam network that largely distributed messages advertising the male potency drug Viagra. Although the response rates for medication spam is very low, sending out a huge volume of messages apparently generates enough response to make the effort worthwhile: according to Kommersant, Despmedia has pulled in over $120 million, some $2 million of which went straight into Gusev’s pocket.

An attorney for Gusev told Reuters a criminal case had been opened against his client, but that Gusev was not involved.

In recent years Russia has been a haven for spammers, botnet operators, identity thieves, and malware developers, and other denizens of the Internet’s seedy and criminal underbellies. As is the case of Despmedia, some of these outfits run operations that can pass as legitimate enterprises: Despmedia is apparently a (very enthusiastic) affiliate partner for Glavmed.com, which specializes in selling drugs online. Despmedia has been operating at since at least 2007. It’s not known at this time if Despmedia participated in distribution of malware, phishing attacks, or other scams or online criminal activity.

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