June 23, 2024

A Chinese national has been arrested by the U.S. Treasury Department for allegedly running 911 S5, a service that has been the cheapest and easiest way to send e-mail through malware-infected machines for many years.

YunHe Wang, 35, allegedly offered free VPN programs that install malware on millions of Windows PCs and exploit those computers to operate a botnet and provide access to cybercriminals, according to the Department of Justice.

The DOJ’s statement claims that 911 S5 customers allegedly targeted certain COVID-19 relief programs. It says that 560,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims originated from compromised IP addresses, resulting in a loss exceeding $5.9 billion for the United States.

The DOJ did not explain how Wang, who is also a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis and possesses property in the United States, was arrested. On the same day he was arrested, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the arrest of two of his associates and the sanctioning of four companies supporting 911 S5.

Wang is accused of infecting Windows PCs with MaskVPN, DewVPN, Shine VPN, and ProxyGate as far back as 2011. According to federal officials, the resulting botnet may have been the largest ever. It has access to 19 million IP addresses across nearly 200 countries, of which approximately 613,841 are based in the United States.

Through 911 S5, Wang was allegedly able to sell access to the botnet, allowing cybercriminals to conduct a range of hacking activities, including financial fraud, cyberstalking, bomb threats, and accessing child pornography.

“Since 2014, 911 S5 allegedly enabled cybercriminals to bypass financial fraud detection systems and steal billions of dollars from financial institutions, credit card issuers, and federal lending programs,” the DOJ said.e

Wang allegedly ran the business until 2022, making at least $99 million from the proxy service by operating 150 servers worldwide. He has been charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud, substantive computer fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted on all counts, he could face a maximum penalty of 65 years in prison.

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