Monday April 10, 2017

Alleged Spam King Pyotr Levashov Arrested

Pyotr Levashov, allegedly one of the worlds most notorious spam kings, operator of the Waledac botnet, and moderator of the spam subsection in multiple online communities, like SPAMdot under the forum handle Severa has been arrested in Spain under an international warrant requested by the FBI. Levashov is listed as #7 on the Spamhaus top spammers ranking.

Early reports by Reuters suggested that his arrest was somehow tied to Russian-backed U.S. election meddling, however this appears to have been intentional misinformation aimed at muddying the waters prior to extradition hearings. According to a U.S. Department of Justice official this is a criminal matter without any national security connections.

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According to an exhaustive analysis published in my book آ— Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime آ— Severa likely made more money renting Waledac and other custom spam botnets to other spammers than blasting out junk email on his own. For $200, vetted users could hire one of his botnets to send 1 million pieces of spam. Junk email campaigns touting auction and employment scams cost $300 per million, and phishing emails designed to separate unwary email users from their usernames and passwords could be blasted out through Severa’s botnet for the bargain price of $500 per million.