A man has been charged with selling $1 billion worth of fake Cisco networking equipment, which he illegally imported from China.
Florida-based Onur Aksoy, who also went by Ron Aksoy and Dave Durden, is charged with setting up at least 15 storefronts on Amazon, 10 on eBay, and 19 companies established in New Jersey and Florida, to sell the counterfeit products. He is accused of operating since at least 2013.
Among the customers of the fraudulent products were hospitals, schools, government organizations, and the military.
Through his 'Pro Network Entities,' Aksoy allegedly imported tens of thousands of fake Cisco networking devices from China and Hong Kong, to sell in the US and overseas.
The products were older and lower-model Cisco equipment that had been altered to appear newer, and more expensive.
Chinese counterfeiters altered the older and lower-model equipment to make them resemble brand-new, enhanced, and more expensive Cisco gear. Because Cisco software checks for licenses and verifies authenticity, the counterfeiters added additional components, which were unreliable and often faulty.
Unsurprisingly, this meant that the products were prone to completely breaking, or disrupting customers' networks - requiring expensive repairs.
From 2014 to 2019, Cisco sent seven letters to Aksoy asking him to cease and desist his trafficking of counterfeit goods. Aksoy allegedly responded to at least two of these letters by causing his attorney to provide Cisco with forged documents.
Between 2014 and 2022, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized around 180 shipments of counterfeit Cisco devices being shipped to the Pro Network Entities from China and Hong Kong.
To try to avoid CBP scrutiny, Chinese conspirators allegedly broke the shipments up into smaller parcels and shipped them on different days, and Aksoy used at least two fake delivery addresses in Ohio.
In July 2021, agents executed a search warrant at Aksoy’s warehouse and seized 1,156 counterfeit Cisco devices with a retail value of over $7 million.
Askoy is charged with committing mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods. The charges of mail and wire fraud each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The charges of trafficking in counterfeit goods each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. Each charge also carries a maximum potential fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.