Oleg Nikolaenko, a Moscow resident, has been accused of violating US anti-spam and fraud laws in a sworn testimony by an FBI agent investigating the case.
Webmail records from two Gmail accounts and financial transactions are said to link Nikolaenko to the operation, according to court papers submitted in a grand jury investigation.
The so-called “Mega-D zombie network” was infamous as a prolific source of counterfeit prescription, herbal remedy and fake Rolex spam. It has since been taken down in an operation mounted by security firm FireEye.
Nikolaenko is the first suspect to be named in the case, although it is thought unlikely that he will face charges since the Russian constitution specifically prohibits extradition of its citizens.
The move comes as Russia has been named as the main villain in global spam distribution – eclipsing the US – according to a report by Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky reports that a third of all phishing emails targeted PayPal, while Facebook was the second most common victim. Other frequent targets of phishing attacks included HSBC and Blizzard Entertainment, the World of Warcraft developer.
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