Cars, Houses, and Billions of Dollars Seized in Cybercrime Busts

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.30 - 2024 1:49 PM CET

The US and Europe have separately announced major takedowns of cybercrime networks that defrauded people of billions.

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Major US Operation

In the US, Chinese national YunHe Wang has been arrested, and authorities have seized assets including a Ferrari, luxury watches, and 21 properties.

As reported by the BBC, the Department of Justice (DoJ) stated that Wang used a "botnet" to hack into over 19 million devices across nearly 200 countries. The botnet enabled criminals to conceal their identities and commit various offenses, including fraud, child exploitation, harassment, and bomb threats.

Wang's activities led to over $5.9 billion in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims.

Nicole Argentieri, principal deputy assistant attorney general, explained, "Wang created malware that compromised millions of residential computers globally and then sold access to these infected computers to cybercriminals."

With the proceeds, Wang purchased $60 million worth of luxury assets, including a Ferrari, a Rolls-Royce, two BMWs, and several watches, as well as bank accounts and cryptocurrency wallets. He also acquired properties in the US, St. Kitts and Nevis, China, Singapore, Thailand, and the UAE.

Wang 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, he faces up to 65 years in prison.

Europol's Crackdown

Meanwhile, Europol has arrested the ringleaders of several cybercrime networks that used botnets.

Arrests were made in Armenia and Ukraine, and servers were taken down across the world, including in the UK, the US, and Germany. Europol now controls over 2,000 websites previously used for malicious activities.

One main suspect reportedly made more than €69 million in cryptocurrency through ransomware attacks, which lock users out of their computers until a ransom is paid. Europol has added eight fugitives involved in these cybercrimes to Europe’s "most wanted" list.

These cybercriminals primarily spread their malicious software through phishing emails and compromised websites.

Europol's operation, dubbed Operation Endgame, is ongoing.

Both the DoJ and Europol claim their respective operations are the largest botnet busts in history.

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