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FBI hunts man behind 'world's largest spam
Category : General 05 Dec 2010 07:59 AM | Industry News
According to Steve Jones, an Internet expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the technology Nikolaenko allegedly employed could easily spam just about every Internet user around the world in a day.
A glimpse into how much the operation may have made can be seen in the documents, which allege that Nikolaenko received $459,098.47 between June 4 and December 5, 2007, through his work distributing e-mails peddling everything from advertised erectile dysfunction drugs, other counterfeit prescriptions and "herbal remedies."
Authorities got a break when a they arrested a seller of counterfeit Rolexes, who told them that he paid spammers $2 million to help sell his product.
"Estimates were some computers were sending 15,000 to 100,000 emails and you multiply that by a couple hundred thousand computers around the world -- that's a billion emails an hour," Jones said.
According to the affidavit by FBI agent Brett Banner, Nikolaenko earned millions since 2007 operating his "botnet," a network of 509,000 virus-infected computers that spanned the globe and sent out spam e-mails without the knowledge of the computer owners.
Investigators interviewed an Australian seller of fake Rolex watches, who pointed authorities to Internet bulletin boards where marketers enlisted spammers to help sell their goods. Private U.S. computer security firms helped track down Nikolaenko's botnet, called "Mega-D."
FBI agents and the Federal Trade Commission had been monitoring him since at least 2007, according to documents. That included two trips to the U.S. last year. And their big nab came when he went to Las Vegas, Nevada, for an auto show. He was arrested on November 4.