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October 13, 2005

"Internet Spam Gang" Hit With $37 Million Fine

Courtesy of TechWeb News

The Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General is looking for Leo Kuveyev, the leader of the "Internet Spam Gang," whose illegal spam operation was fined $37 million by a Boston judge this week.

“We believe he is in Russia,” said assistant attorney general Scott Schafer Thursday. “He continuously moves around.”

Kuvayev and six other persons with Massachusetts ties were named in a suit brought by Attorney General Tom Reilly in May and the court decision came down this week. Schafer, who is an assistant attorney general in the state’s consumer protection and antitrust division, said civil and not criminal charges were brought against Kuvayev so his operation could be quickly shut down.

The AG’s action caused U.S.-based ISPs to shut down the Kuvayev operation. The spamming operation, which was charged with sending millions of messages, used a Boston Post Office box to correspond with people replying to online solicitations.

In the decision by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Lloyd MacDonald, the Internet Spam Gang’s illegal websites – there were dozens of them, according to Schafer – were ordered permanently shutdown.

Schafer said another member of the illegal spamming operation, Vladislav Khokholkov, has been located in Russia by other sources. The whereabouts of the other accused members of the operation are also unknown.

The state's investigation was assisted by information provided by Microsoft, officials said. Microsoft’s Internet Safety Enforcement team had set up phony Hotmail accounts, “trapping” more than 45,000 messages believed to have been sent by the Internet Spam Gang.

The Kuvayev-led operation involved a complicated web of online sites and domain names that offered illegal products ranging from counterfeit drugs and pirated software to pornography, phony designer watches and mortgage loans.

In a statement, Reilly said: “This judgment should serve as a deterrent to those who use the Internet for illicit purposes.”

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