Spam leader’s arrest gives look into the world of junk mail and scams

Sep 2, 2013
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We've all received spam mail at one point or another, with spam comments being the more common variety for those who run a website. The emails and comments focus on a wide range of offerings: sensationalist claims, cheap pharmaceuticals, and non-existent lotteries. Now one of the men behind this illicit industry, Igor A. Artimovich, has been arrested, giving us a look into what goes into spam generation.

Artimovich resided in St. Petersburg, Russia, in a small apartment with his wife. To those who were part of his illicit ways, Artimovich was instead known by the handle Engel, which he used on chat rooms. Earlier this past summer, the young Russian -- along with three other individuals -- were charged with running a spam network responsible for quite a bit of the spam that is disseminated.

With the legal proceeding came a look into what went into the process, among it all being the use of zombie machines to send spams emails unbeknownst to the computers' users. Such is more common in places like India and Brazil, according to the New York Times, because those users are less likely to be running some sort of anti-virus software.

The creation of the software that performs this, however, is done in Russia. According to the court documents, Artimovich was one of two main programmers responsible for this spam network, the both of them working in a group that included a former intelligence officer for Russia's FSB.

As an undercurrent to it all, these spam networks have provided income for criminal gangs in Russia, with it being estimated that $60 million is generated annually. And although the Russian government has managed to take down individuals it says are responsible for a very large percentage of the spam industry, such networks remain and security experts have indicated that the reigns may have been passed on to others before the leaders were taken down.

SOURCE: New York Times


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