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Russian Anti-Spam Advisor Accused of Spamming 69

Keith noted that Krebs has an interesting story on a Russian businessman being accused of running a spam ring while serving as an anti-spam adviser to the Russian government. It's a strange tale including an investigation in 2007 that was abandoned when the chief investigator was actually hired to work for the spammer. Not suspicious at all, no way.
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Russian Anti-Spam Advisor Accused of Spamming

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  • CEO of ChronoPay [], the ultra shady [] payment "processor" that functioned more like an account hijacker. Looking to partner with Paypal [] for Russian transactions as well as online Sino-Russian transactions [].

    If you used the illegitimate MP3 site you may want to investigate whether or not your transaction went through Chronopay as they might have retained a copy of your records *cough* *cough*. Krebs outed this guy in the first report and Vrublevsky tried to play it off like someone higher was trying to drag his name through the mud for political reasons. I don't need anymore accusations: Vrublevsky's a crook.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )
      Russia has its own style in business, government and crime. Misha Glenny covered it well in his well researched book McMafia. He quoted James Woolsey who portrayed it succinctly:

      If you should chance to strike up a conversation with an articulate, English-speaking Russian in, say, the restaurant of one of the luxury hotels along Lake Geneva, and he is wearing a $3,000 suit and a pair of Gucci loafers, and he tells you that he is an executive of a Russian trading company and wants to talk to you about a joint venture, then there are four possibilities. He may be what he says he is. He may be a Russian intelligence officer working under commercial cover. He may be part of a Russian organized crime group. But the really interesting possibility is that he may be all three--and that none of those three institutions have any problem with the arrangement.

      Things are different over there.

    • Vrublevsky's a crook.

      Anyone with a name like Vrublesvsky is either a criminal mastermind or a mad scientist.

      There is no middle ground.

  • doesn't this happen all the time? When there isn't a market for something then the company creates one and then profits
  • Too obvious (Score:5, Funny)

    by c++0xFF ( 1758032 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:48AM (#32253652)

    In Soviet Russia, anti-spam advisor spams you!

    • See, the whole point of the "In Soviet Russia" joke is to flip reality around into something nonsensical.

      It doesn't work right if reality is already flipped around into something nonsensical.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        See, the whole point of the "In Soviet Russia" joke is to flip reality around into something nonsensical.

        Not quite. The canonical In Soviet Russia joke is "In America, you can always find a party. In Soviet Russia, the Party can always find you!" It makes sense both ways.

  • shocking! (Score:2, Funny)

    by torgis ( 840592 )
    What's this? A corrupt Russian official? Say it ain't so!

    In Soviet Russia.... oh wait. Someone else beat me to it. Damn.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What's this? A corrupt Russian official? Say it ain't so!

      That's no particularly Russian "virtue".

      Just remember the lead investigator in the case against The Pirate Bay, who ended up working for the MAFIA.

  • not all bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:53AM (#32253720) Homepage

    Someone who has successfully operated a spam business will understand spam a lot better than someone who has not.

    • Just so I understand. That would be like Jimbo Wales insisting to remove porn from Wikipedia?

    • Plus, it is a great way of eliminating competition!
      • Not really, in Russia these sorts of arrangements just mean the spammer keeps on spamming while influencing government spam policy. It's how it's done over there.

    • Someone who has successfully operated a spam business will understand spam a lot better than someone who has not

      Exactly, it's the "poacher turned gamekeeper" argument, and such gamekeepers tend to be harsher than average, just like ex-smokers are usually the most anti-smoking.

  • ... make money.

    As much as some people like to think otherwise the simple truth of spam is that spammers send spam to make money. And this guy was just taking it to another level; he was working to improve the rate at which his spam gets through. This really shouldn't surprise anyone who has one iota of sense regarding how spam works and why it actually exists.

    Hell we could actually call this "a victory for western capitalism in Russia". Alternately you could say he is just a newer iteration of Viktor Bout [].
  • by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @12:22PM (#32254158) Homepage Journal
    ...they managed to find someone that actually knows what he is talking about. I mean, if you want a spam expert, how can you beat a successful spammer?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @12:33PM (#32254308) Homepage

    IronPort [] used to play both sides of the street back in 2002. They sold rackmount "spam filter" boxes, and they also sold, er, "email delivery appliances". [] These included mechanisms for using hundreds of different IP addresses, to avoid triggering spam filters. IronPort was also behind "Bonded Spammer" [], a scheme where they paid ISPs to whitelist their spam. They even bought SpamCop and built Bonded Spammer into it.

    Cisco finally bought IronPort, and they got out of the spamming business. Bonded Spammer lives on as ReturnPath []. If you have anything to do with mail processing, it's worth understanding how to identify ReturnPath email (the IP address is tagged in DNS) so it can be moved to the "bulk" folder. If you use SpamAssassin, it comes with a big negative value for ReturnPath emails to get them through filters. Change that to +2 or so; if somebody paid to use ReturnPath, they're a bulk sender.

    • I'm sorry, but I don't see how the ReturnPath program is for spammers. I've gone through the process for real companies (i.e. not spammers) sending newsletters and transactional email. The complaint rates you have to maintain to keep their service are extremely low. I don't see how a spammer could maintain those complaint rates and keep using their service.

      Just because somebody is a bulk sender doesn't mean it's spam. I really doubt you'd consider this website a source of spam, but it would be considered a

      • by Animats ( 122034 )

        If a "newsletter" needs help to get through a spam filter, it's spam. If you want to distribute updates to real "subscribers", use an RSS feed. The user then has total control over their subscription. But most "newsletter" spammers don't want that.

        • I'm sorry, but you're completely off tune with reality. The majority of the people in this world aren't computer savvy and would struggle with RSS feeds. They signed up for updates from the companies, because they wanted them in email. Something even the most computer inept people can use now. One company I work with just sent out an email to their investors, guess what it's a newsletter.

          If you were to go create something that got mild success in it's first month say you got 20k users and you're sending em

  • John Levine is an owner/direcot of Whitehat. Whitehat is a spam company. Levine is head of the ISOC Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) Anti Spam Research Group (ASRG) [] []

    Other owner/directors of Whitehat include Rodney Joffe and Paul Vixie (or MAPS fame) [] [] []

    Vixie's ISC (root server F oper

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"