Man behind a third of the world’s spam heading to court

Oleg Nikolaenko, a 23-year-old Russian man was arrested in Las Vegas last month and arraigned this morning in Milwaukee for running a massive spamming operation, The Wall Street Journal reports. Nikolaenko is being accused of spearheading a massive international spamming network that experts say is responsible for a third of the world’ spam, and odds are you could very well have been one of his victims. He is pleading not guilty.

The FBI is linking Nikolaenko to Mega-D botnet, once the largest botnet in the world and “accounting for 32 percent of all spam,” it reports. Nikolaenko slipped through the FBI’s fingers before, when in 2009 a security firm attacked Mega-D and redirected much of its traffic. But the spammer made it back to Russia in time to mend the software.

This time, however, fake Rolexes led to Nikolaenko. A “Folex” site was using Mega-D for its spamming purposes, which tipped the authorities off and led them to a money transfer site that gave them Nikolaenko’s name and Gmail address. Google was legally mandated to provide his account information, which yielded plenty of proof of his spamming activities.

After entering the US and making his way to Las Vegas last month, Nikolaenko was arrested and charged with violating US anti-spam laws.

So just how pervasive was the 23 year old’s spamming operation? The WSJ reports that Mega-D sent as many as 10 billion fake emails a day, usually advertising faulty sales of fake designer watches,Viagra, and herbal male enhancement medications. The prosecution alleges that Mega-D would inflict malware on a user’s computer, hijacking the machine in order to distribute mass amounts of spam.

Nikolaenko faces the possibility of three years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

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