A Russian national accused of sending vast numbers of ‘spam’ emails was arraigned Friday in Milwaukee. Oleg Nikolaenko, of Moscow, was arraigned on a one-count indictment alleging a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act, alleging that he knowingly and materially falsified header information in email messages to disguise the emails’ true origin. The indictment alleges that the volume of electronic mail messages exceeded 250,000 during a one-year period.
A scheduling conference has been set for December 21 before Magistrate Judge William E. Callahan. The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint previously filed against the 23 year-old Russian alleges that he sent billions of spam emails on behalf of individuals who were selling counterfeit Rolexes, non-FDA approved herbal remedies, and counterfeit prescription medications. In return, Nikolaenko was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nikolaenko is alleged to have initiated the sending of these messages by use of his botnet, which had been dubbed the “Mega-D” botnet. As detailed in the complaint, the director of malware research at a private Internet security firm estimated that at various times, the Mega-D botnet was capable of sending ten billion spam email messages a day, all of which contained materially falsified header information.
Nikolaenko faces a maximum possible penalty of imprisonment for not more than three years, a fine of not more than $250,000, and up to one year of supervised release. A restitution order also may be issued. The FBI is investigating the case, with assistance from the FTC.