Russian Spam King Facing Charges In US Federal Court

Oleg Nikolaenko, 23, of Moscow, Russia, was due to face arraignment in U.S. Federal Court in Milwaukee today in the wake of his Nov. 16 indictment for violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

According to the complaint in the case filed by the FBI, Nikolaenko made hundreds of thousands of dollars by sending billions of spam emails advertising counterfeit Rolex watches, herbal remedies and counterfeit prescription medications.

The FBI said in the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint that they and investigators from the FTC were led to Nikolaenko as a result of investigations and arrests of U.S. resident Jody M. Smith and Australian resident Lance Atkinson for trafficking in the counterfeit watches and prescription medications. The investigation, in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand led to the MegaD botnet and Nikolaenko.

The botnet was taken down in November, 2009.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel carried a good story about the investigation and court action to date.

The details in the criminal complaint of the international investigation behind the charges are, oddly, a good read. They show the international nature of big Internet crime and what it’s going to take to bring down the organized groups and powerful individuals that have been evading the law and clogging our spam buckets for so long.

It’s taken law enforcement a long time to develop the investigative capability to handle such borderless high-tech crimes, but it looks like they’ve hit their stride.

Thanks to Brian Krebs of the Krebs on Security blog for posting the criminal complaint.

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Tom Kelchner is Research Center Manager at Sunbelt Software. Tom is a communications professional with extensive background in computer security, anti-virus application testing and computer virus analysis. He is a former daily newspaper reporter and deputy press secretary to governor of Pennsylvania.