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How the FBI nabbed a Russian spam king in Las Vegas

SpamCop 98

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By Nate Anderson | Last updated about 3 hours ago

On October 30, Oleg Nikolaenko flew from his home in Moscow to JFK airport, and then on to Las Vegas. He checked in to the Bellagio Hotel, where he attended the Speciality Equipment Market Association car show, a show he had attended last year as well.

Bad move—because the feds nabbed him in Vegas just before the show ended, leaving his wife and young son back in Russia. At a November 4 hearing before a judge in Las Vegas, Nikolaenko needed a Russian interpreter and a public defender, but it didn't take much interpretation to see that he wasn't about to go free. That's because Nikolaenko was one of the biggest spammers in the world.

Nikolaenko doesn't come across in court documents as a man who learns his lessons well. He's allegedly one of the parties behind the Mega-D botnet, at one time "the largest botnet in the world, accounting for 32 percent of all spam," according to the FBI.

Yet he keeps coming to the US. When he was in Vegas for the 2009 car show, a security firm called FireEye actually managed to cripple Mega-D by shutting down its US-based command and control servers and redirecting much of the botnet traffic to "sinkhole" locations. Nikolaenko, poor guy, had to leave the US two days early to "repair the damage caused by FireEye."

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Thanks SC98 - that warms the cockles of my savage old heart.

Love it that there's a sting in the tail of gmail addresses, having noted that domain registrations, etc. by spammers as often as not use gmail addresses which they possibly consider are a touch more 'respectable' than Hotmail or Yahoo ones for such purposes.

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