FBI agent: Russian was mega-spammer

Dec. 2, 2010 at 6:45 PM

MILWAUKEE, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. investigators say a 23-year-old Russian, arrested when he visited Las Vegas for a car show, was responsible for one-third of worldwide spam.

Oleg Nikolaenko of Moscow is scheduled to appear in federal court in Milwaukee Friday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday. He was arrested Nov. 4 and indicted Nov. 16 on charges of violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

FBI Special Agent Brett Banner, in an affidavit filed with the court, said Nikolaenko used malicious software to take over computers, merging them into a "botnet" so large one expert called it Mega-D. Those computers allegedly sent out 10 billion pieces of spam a day.

Nikolaenko became a target with the arrest of a man selling counterfeit Rolodex watches online, Banner said. The man, who said he had paid $2 million for spam e-mails advertising his wares, provided information that eventually led to Nikolaenko.

At one point, Nikolaenko was responsible for about one-third of the spam e-mail being sent globally, Banner said, although work by Internet security firms subsequently cut that down to 12 percent.

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