Chinese national responsible for global 911 S5 botnet apprehended by U.S. and allies

On May 29, the Justice Department announced that a large-scale law enforcement operation successfully disrupted the powerful 911 S5 botnet and resulted in the arrest of one of its key leaders.

A Chinese national named YunHe Wang, 35, has been apprehended in Singapore by the Justice Department for his involvement in the establishment and management of the worldwide 911 S5 botnet, according to a statement released by the department.

Wang has been accused of engaging in a conspiracy to commit computer fraud, substantive computer fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. If found guilty, he could potentially face a maximum prison sentence of 65 years.

In a statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed that the 911 S5 botnet has been responsible for various malicious activities including cyber-attacks, large-scale fraud, child exploitation, harassment, bomb threats, and export violations.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, fraudsters in the United States managed to submit approximately 560,000 unemployment insurance claims using compromised IP addresses, leading to a staggering loss of over $5.9 billion.

Attorney General Garland emphasized the significance of this case by highlighting that the reach of the law extends beyond borders and into the depths of the dark web. He affirmed the unwavering commitment of the Justice Department to relentlessly pursue cybercriminals and ensure they are held accountable for their actions.

Wang and his accomplices are accused of developing and disseminating malware with the intention of infiltrating millions of personal computers across the globe, as stated in the indictment.

According to the Justice Department, the conspirators were able to generate millions of dollars by offering cybercriminals access to the infected IP addresses for a fee. The devices were associated with over 19 million unique IP addresses, including 613,841 in the United States.

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Cybercriminals utilized the proxied IP addresses to perpetrate a diverse range of offenses while remaining anonymous.

According to CNN, Matthew Axelrod, a senior official from the U.S. Commerce Department, expressed that the alleged crime and the extravagant lifestyle it supported “resembles a plot taken straight out of a movie.”

Between 2018 and July 2022, Wang is said to have made a staggering $99 million by selling hijacked IP addresses, as stated in the indictment.

He used the money he obtained through dishonest means to buy real estate in various countries including the United States, St. Kitts and Nevis, China, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.

Law enforcement agencies from multiple countries, including the FBI, Singapore, Thailand, and Germany, successfully confiscated a total of $30 million worth of real estate properties. Additionally, they were able to seize approximately $4 million in luxury cars, watches, and other valuable assets.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced sanctions against Wang, Jingping Liu, and Yanni Zheng for their involvement with 911 S5.

All U.S. assets held in their names are frozen, and any U.S. citizens are prohibited from doing business with them.

Liu and Zheng allegedly engaged in money laundering activities involving the proceeds from the botnet. Additionally, Zheng, who is Wang’s lawyer, is accused of being involved in various business transactions on Wang’s behalf in Thailand.

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