Technology

Counterfeit Cisco equipment ended up in US military bases and was used in combat missions

Cisco Systems headquarters in San Jose, California, USA, on Monday, August 14, 2023.
Enlarge / Cisco Systems headquarters in San Jose, California.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday that a Florida resident was sentenced to 78 months in prison for running a fake scam that generated $100 million in revenue using fake networking equipment and jeopardized the security of the U.S -Military at risk.

Onur Aksoy, aka Ron Aksoy and Dave Durden, pleaded guilty on June 5, 2023, to two counts charging him with conspiring with others to traffic in counterfeit goods, committing mail fraud and committing wire fraud. His sentence, imposed May 1, also includes an order to pay Cisco $100 million, a $40,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Aksoy must also pay his victims an amount that a court will determine at an unspecified future date, the DOJ said.

According to the indictment [PDF]Aksoy began planning the fraud in approximately August 2013, and the operation ran until at least April 2022. Aksoy used at least 19 companies and approximately 15 Amazon storefronts, 10 eBay stores and direct sales—collectively known as Pro Network Entities—to dozens for sale thousands of computer networking equipment. He imported the products from China and Hong Kong and sold them as new and genuine using counterfeit Cisco packaging, labels and documents. According to the indictment, legitimate versions of the products were sold for over $1 billion.

The DOJ’s announcement this week said the devices had an estimated retail value of “hundreds of millions of dollars” and that Aksoy personally received millions of dollars.

Fake Cisco technology used in Air Force, Army and Navy applications

The U.S. military used equipment acquired under the Aksoy program, which government officials said compromised sensitive applications, including support platforms for U.S. fighter jets and other types of military aircraft.

In a statement this week, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Special Agent Bryan Denny, Inspector General of the Defense Criminal Investigation Service in the Western Field Office, said Aksoy “knowingly defrauded the Department of Defense by introducing counterfeits.” Adding products into its supply chain that regularly failed or didn’t work at all. He added:

In doing so, he sold counterfeit Cisco products to the Department of Defense that were found at numerous military bases and in various systems, including, but not limited to, flight simulators for U.S. Air Force F-15 and P-8 aircraft.

The DOJ’s announcement states that Aksoy’s counterfeit devices were ultimately “used in highly sensitive military and government applications – including classified information systems – some of which support combat and non-combat operations of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army, including platforms that support F-15, F-18 and F-22 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and B-52 Stratofortress bombers.

The announcement said devices purchased as part of the scam also ended up in hospitals and schools.

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