Man Arrested for Orchestrating 911 S5 Botnet Scheme

A Chinese citizen has been apprehended on charges of masterminding the 911 S5 botnet that was responsible for stealing billions of dollars and was believed to be the biggest in history.

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The botnet, known as “911 S5,” is believed to be the largest in the world, infecting computers across nearly 200 countries and enabling numerous crimes, including financial fraud, identity theft, and child exploitation, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Yunhe Wang is accused of amassing at least $99 million (£78 million) from the operation. This wealth was used to purchase luxury cars and properties globally by selling access to criminals who utilized the botnet for various scams.

A botnet comprises a network of compromised computers that hackers control remotely to execute extensive cyberattacks and scams.

These “zombie” machines can be manipulated to collect personal data, monitor user activities, and install malicious software.

Wang, 35, was detained in Singapore last week, and authorities seized $29 million (£22.8 million) in cryptocurrency, according to Brett Leatherman, the FBI’s deputy assistant director for cyber operations.

An indictment filed in Texas reveals that the botnet has been used to steal “billions of dollars from financial institutions, credit card issuers, accountholders, and federal lending programs since 2014.” The network reportedly included 613,000 infected computers in the US alone.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that the criminals leveraging this botnet committed approximately $5.9 billion (£4.64 billion) in fraud, including 560,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims.

Wang allegedly used his ill-gotten gains to acquire 21 properties in the UAE, the US, China, Singapore, Thailand, and St. Kitts and Nevis, where he also gained citizenship, as per prosecutors.

Among the assets that could be confiscated are luxury vehicles, including a Rolls-Royce, two BMWs, and a Ferrari, as well as expensive watches.

If found guilty, Wang could face up to 65 years in prison on charges including computer fraud and money laundering.

The FBI noted that authorities from the US, Singapore, Thailand, and Germany collaborated in the operation to apprehend Wang and dismantle the botnet.

Matthew S. Axelrod from the US Bureau of Industry and Security commented, “The allegations here resemble a plot from a screenplay—a scheme to sell access to millions of malware-infected computers worldwide.

It enabled criminals to steal billions of dollars, send bomb threats, and exchange child exploitation materials, then using nearly $100 million in profits to buy luxury cars, watches, and real estate.

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