The US' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has launched a probe against a Russian man suspected of being responsible for around one-third of global internet spam.
"An ongoing grand jury probe is targeting Oleg Nikolaenko... for allegedly violating the anti-spam law, as well as abetting violations of the mail and wire fraud statutes," according to an affidavit by the FBI, the Smoking Gun portal reported on Wednesday.
The Smoking Gun portal, part of the Turner Entertainment Network, puts out legal documents on its website. It gains access to the documents with the help of Freedom of Information requests.
According to the portal, the 23-year-old Russian resident of Vidnoye town, south of Moscow, could be behind a notorious network named Mega-D, comprising more than 500,000 infected computers.
Some experts believe that Mega-D accounts for 32% of all global spam letters. The network, capable of sending up to 10 billion spam letters a day, was crippled late last year by the FireEye network security company.
Information about Nikolaenko, known under the online moniker "Docent", was received from spammers Jody Smith and Lance Atkinson. The two advertised fake Rolexes, counterfeit prescription medications, purported erectile dysfunction drugs, and "herbal remedies" not approved by government regulators.
According to FBI data, Atkinson transferred $460,000 to Nikolaenko's account for his services over a six-month period.