The World's Top 10 Spammers

Gangs of hackers make money not only by stealing from electronic accounts but also by spamming. The Spamhaus Project, an 11-year-old British and Swiss-based nonprofit that works with global law-enforcement agencies, regularly updates the list of the most persistent spammers.

1. Canadian Pharmacy
(Ukraine/Russia)
Pharmaceutical spamming has intensified during the worldwide swine-flu pandemic—for the most part, it is advertising for counterfeit Tamiflu. Zombie computers infected with a Trojan virus are now sending out tens of thousands spam messages a day.

2. Leo Kuvayev a.k.a. BadCow
(Russia)
The 36-year-old Russian is being sought by the FBI and the British police. He is called the king of world spam: he was the first to hide messages in graphic files to circumvent filters and use viruses to create zombie networks. Kuvayev allegedly deals primarily in pharmaceutical and porn spam.

3. HerbalKing
(India/New Zealand)
A gang that sent out one third of all spam in the U.S. last year operated through a botnet of more than 35,000 computers, advertising medications from India and porn Web sites. HerbalKing's operations were suspended, and its leader, New Zealander Lance Atkinson, declared that he was prepared to pay a fine of $92,715.

4. Vincent Chan a.k.a. yoric.net
(Hong Kong)
Chan and his comrades from China specialize in medical messages, but also promote watches, printer cartridges, and mortgages. In 2004–2005 they worked through the free Web-hosting service Yahoo Geocities, by automating the creation of pages that forwarded visitors to advertised Web sites.

5. Aleksei Polyakov a.k.a. Alex Blood
(Ukraine)
No one knows whether the Ukrainian's name is really Alex Polyakov or he took a pseudonym from John Le Carré's book Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. He is widely described as a specialist in child pornography and one of the biggest distributors of Trojan viruses.

6. Nikhil Kumar Pragji a.k.a. Dark-Mailer
(Australia)
This Australian is a major spammer and author of the Dark-Mailer program, which enables the dispatch of 500,000 messages per hour and, according to users, is distinguished by a convenient interface. It is recommended that the program be downloaded for money—$499—since the free versions contain Trojans.

7. Pyotr Levashov a.k.a. Peter Severa
(Russia)
The creator of Trojans and author of spam programs became known to the public last year during a trial of Alan Ralsky's spam gang from Detroit, the largest in the U.S. Nine others were arrested with Ralsky, but not Severa, who is believed to be living in Russia and still working with hackers.

8. Yambo Financials
(Ukraine)
The large spam organization deals in practically everything, including sending out pornography involving children and animals, promoting pirated software and medications. In addition, the Ukrainians provide "financial service" through a phony bank.

9. Ruslan Ibragimov a.k.a. send-saf.com
(Russia)
The author of viruses and spamming software. Works through Russian servers. In addition, sells spammers lists of recently infected computers.

10. Rove Digital
(Estonia/Russia)
This partnership was founded in Tartu in 2002, and four years later it was recognized as the best IT firm in Estonia. Last year the firm was shut down, and its director, Vladimir Chashchin, was convicted of bank fraud. The Estonian press wrote that Rove Digital has spammed "by the millions." Chashchin tried to shift blame to a Muscovite named Mikhail, but he was not found.