NEWS FROM THE LAB - Monday, July 25, 2005

Someone got too much SPAM ? Posted by Alexey @ 10:50 GMT

Russian media reported today that the owner of the American Language Center, Vardan Kushnir, had been killed. According to the reports, Kushnir's body with massive head trauma was found in his apartment in Moscow.

The American Language Center provides English language courses for Russian speaking people. In order to get new customers, the Center reportedly organized the largest SPAM campaign in Russian history. A huge amount of SPAM was (and still being) sent to over 20 000 000 e-mail addresses belonging to Russian speaking people. They say that you can hardly find a Russian who has never received a SPAM advertising the American Language Center.
ALC logo from now-defunct www.americancenter.ru
The SPAM campaign reportedly organized by the Center was so annoying that many people were trying to fight back. Some of them tried to sue, but with no results. Some tried to organize "denial of service" attacks to American Language Center phone numbers, advertised in SPAM messages (it should be noted that such attacks are basically illegal, but the authorities and the phone companies took no immediate action). As a result the Center's phone lines were totally overloaded for some time. Someone even tried to post Kushnir's personal information online so his mailbox, e-mail address and phone number could be targeted. There also appeared a lot of private webpages and forums devoted to fighting against the American Language Center, here's an example (NOTE: the site is in Russian and connection is slow).

However the killing of Kushnir might not be related to the American Language Center's SPAM campaign. Russian authorities are currently investigating this crime.